In 1966, a blues band that specialized in instrumentals of Latin-infused music was formed in San Francisco. They played gigs part-time while their leader worked as a dishwasher at Tick-Tock’s Drive-In.
Music promoter Chet Helms was managing Big Brother and the Holding Company and promoting music in San Francisco during the Summer Of Love. The blues group auditioned for him in 1967, but that did not go well; Chet suggested that there was no market for their music and told the band’s leader that he should keep his day job.
Fortunately for us, guitar player Carlos Santana ignored that advice and kept on playing music. Bill Graham was a music promoter who been working with Chet since Bill had moved to San Francisco in 1964 and he saw more potential in the group than Chet saw. He signed up to manage the Santana Blues Band and got them a record contract with Columbia Records. They began simply using Santana as the group’s name. Bill also began running the Fillmore Auditorium.
In 1969, Bill was asked to help organize Woodstock and agreed to do so, but only if Santana was added to the bill. The group played a forty-five-minute set at Woodstock in August 1969, and Santana’s first album was released that month as well. Their initial single, Jingo, barely touched the charts. No doubt helped out by their live performance of the song at Woodstock, their second single, Evil Ways, reached the top ten on the Hot 100. Two more hit singles followed from Abraxas, their second album. The album quickly hit the top of the album charts in 1970.
Santata III came out in 1971 and followed its predecessor up to the top of the charts. The first single from the album was Everybody’s Everything, which peaked at #12. Their second single from the album did not perform as well: No One To Depend On barely got into the top forty and peaked at #36 in 1972.
Carlos replaced several of the group’s members with new musicians and began to focus on jazz fusion for the next few albums. While the group’s albums continued to sell well, there were no more top forty singles for the next five years.
The group’s biggest success came in 1999 with the release of the album Supernatural. The album contained the single Smooth. The single featured vocals by Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty and sat in the number one spot for twelve weeks. The band still continues to tour and record music.
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