In January 1972, Santana, Schon, Escovedo, and Lewis joined former Band of Gypsys drummer, Buddy Miles, for a concert at Hawaii’s Diamond Head Crater, which was recorded for the album Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!. The performance was erratic and uneven, but the album managed to achieve gold-record status on the weight of Santana’s popularity.
In early 1972, Santana and the remaining members of the band started working on their fourth album, Caravanserai. During the studio sessions, Santana and Michael Shrieve brought in other musicians: percussionists James Mingo Lewis and Latin-Jazz veteran, Armando Peraza replacing Michael Carabello, and bassists Tom Rutley and Doug Rauch replacing David Brown.
Also assisting on keyboards were Wendy Haas and Tom Coster. With the unsettling influx of new players in the studio, Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon decided that it was time to leave after the completion of the album, even though both contributed to the session.
Rolie returned home to Seattle, and later became a founding member of Journey (which Schon would later join as well).
When Caravanserai did emerge in 1972, it marked a strong change in musical direction towards jazz fusion. The album received critical praise, but CBS executive Clive Davis warned Santana and the band that it would sabotage the band’s position as a “Top 40” act.
Nevertheless, over the years, the album would achieve platinum status. The difficulties Santana and the band went through during this period were chronicled in Ben Fong-Torres’ Rolling Stone 1972 cover story “The Resurrection of Carlos Santana”.
Santana met Deborah King, whom he later married in 1973. She is the daughter of late blues singer and guitarist Saunders King. They have three children: Salvador, Stella and Angelica. Together with wife Deborah, Santana founded a not-for-profit organization, the Milagro (“Miracle”) Foundation, which provides financial aid for educational, medical, and other needs.
Shifting styles and spirituality: 1972–79
In 1972, Santana became interested in the pioneering fusion band The Mahavishnu Orchestra and its guitarist, John McLaughlin. Aware of Santana’s interest in meditation, McLaughlin introduced Santana and Deborah to his guru, Sri Chinmoy.
Chinmoy accepted them as disciples in 1973. Santana was given the name Devadip, meaning “The lamp, light and eye of God”.
Santana and McLaughlin recorded an album together, Love, Devotion, Surrender (1973) with members of Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, along with percussionist Don Alias and organist Larry Young, who both had made appearances on Miles Davis’ classic album Bitches Brew in 1969.
In 1973, Santana, having obtained legal rights to the band’s name, Santana, formed a new version of the band with Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas on percussion, Doug Rauch on bass, Michael Shrieve on drums, and Tom Coster and Richard Kermode on keyboards.
Santana later was able to recruit jazz vocalist Leon Thomas for a tour in Japan on July 3 and 4, 1973, which was recorded for the live, sprawling, high-energy triple vinyl LP fusion album Lotus (1974).
CBS records would not allow its release unless the material was condensed. Santana did not agree to those terms, and Lotus was available in the U.S. only as an expensive, imported, three-record set. The group later went into the studio and recorded Welcome (1973), which further reflected Santana’s interests in jazz fusion and his increasing commitment to the spiritual life of Sri Chinmoy.
A collaboration with John Coltrane’s widow, Alice Coltrane, Illuminations (1974), followed. The album delved into avant-garde esoteric free jazz, Eastern Indian and classical influences with other ex-Miles Davis sidemen Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland.
Soon after, Santana replaced his band members again. This time Kermode, Thomas and Rauch departed from the group and were replaced by vocalist Leon Patillo (later a successful Contemporary Christian artist) and returning bassist David Brown.
He also recruited soprano saxophonist, Jules Broussard for the lineup. The band recorded one studio album Borboletta, which was released in 1974. Drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler later joined the band as a replacement for Michael Shrieve, who left to pursue a solo career.
By this time, Bill Graham’s management company had assumed responsibility for the affairs of the group. Graham was critical of Santana’s move into jazz and felt he needed to concentrate on getting Santana back into the charts with the edgy, streetwise ethnic sound that had made them famous.
Santana himself was seeing that the group’s direction was alienating many fans. Although the albums and performances were given good reviews by critics in jazz and jazz fusion circles, sales had plummeted.
Santana, along with Tom Coster, producer David Rubinson, and Chancler, formed yet another version of Santana, adding vocalist Greg Walker. The 1976 album Amigos, which featured the songs “Dance, Sister, Dance” and “Let It Shine”, had a strong funk and Latin sound.
The album received considerable airplay on FM album-oriented rock stations with the instrumental “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)” and re-introduced Santana to the charts. In 1976 Rolling Stone ran a second cover story on Santana entitled “Santana Comes Home”.
The albums conceived through the late 1970s followed the same formula, although with several lineup changes. Among the new personnel who joined was current percussionist Raul Rekow, who joined in early 1977. Most notable of the band’s commercial efforts of this era was a version of the 1960s Zombies hit, “She’s Not There”, on the 1977 double album Moonflower.
The relative success of the band’s albums in this era allowed Santana to pursue a solo career funded by CBS. First, Oneness: Silver Dreams – Golden Reality, in 1979 and The Swing of Delight in 1980, which featured some of his musical heroes: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams from Miles Davis’ legendary 1960s quintet.
The pressures and temptations of being a high-profile rock musician and requirements of the spiritual lifestyle which guru Sri Chinmoy and his followers demanded were in conflict, and imposed considerable stress upon Santana’s lifestyle and marriage.
He was becoming increasingly disillusioned with what he thought were the unreasonable rules that Chinmoy imposed on his life, and in particular with his refusal to allow Santana and Deborah to start a family. He felt too that his fame was being used to increase the guru’s visibility. Santana and Deborah eventually ended their relationship with Chinmoy in 1982.
Guitars and effects
Santana played a red Gibson SG Special with P-90 pickups at the Woodstock festival. During the time between the release of Abraxas and Santana III (1970–1972), he used different Gibson Les Pauls and a Black Gibson SG Special. From 1976 until 1982 his main guitar was a Yamaha SG 175B, and sometimes a white Gibson SG Custom with 3 single coil pick-ups.
In 1982 he started to use a custom made PRS Custom 24 guitar. In 1988 PRS Guitars began making Santana signature model guitars, which Santana has played through its various iterations ever since (see below).
Santana currently uses a Santana II model guitar fitted with PRS Santana III nickel covered pickups, a tremolo bar, and .009-.042 gauge D’Addario strings. He also plays a PRS Santana Multidimensional (MD)The Santana guitars feature necks made of a single piece of mahogany topped with Rosewood fretboards (some feature highly sought-after Brazilian Rosewood). This helps create the smooth, singing, glass-like tone for which he is known.
Santana Signature Models:
PRS Santana I “The Yellow”(1988)
PRS Santana II “Supernatural” (1999)
PRS Santana III (2001)
PRS Santana SE (2001)
PRS Santana SE II (2003)
PRS Santana Shaman SE-Limited Edition (2003)
PRS Santana MD “The Multidimensional” (2008)
PRS Santana Abraxas SE-Limited Edition (2009)
PRS Santana SE “The Multidimensional” (2011)
Santana also uses a classical guitar, he used the Alvarez Yairi CY127CE with Alvarez tension nylon strings, in the last years from 2009 he uses custom made, semi-hollow Toru Nittono’s “Model-T” Jazz Electric Nylon.
Santana does not use many effects pedals. His PRS guitar is connected to a Mu-Tron wah wah pedal (or, more recently, a Dunlop 535Q wah and a T-Rex Replica delay pedal. then through a customized Jim Dunlop amp switcher which in turn is connected to the different amps or cabinets.
Previous setups include an Ibanez Tube Screamer right after the guitar. He is also known to have used an Electro Harmonix Big Muff distortion for his famous sustain. In the song “Stand Up” from the album Marathon (1980), Santana uses a Heil talk box in the guitar solo. He has also used the Audiotech Guitar Products 1×6 Rack Mount Audio Switcher in rehearsals for the 2008 “Live Your Light” tour.
Santana uses two different guitar picks: the large triangular Dunlop he has used for so many years, and the V-Pick Freakishly Large Round.
Carlos Santana’s distinctive guitar tone is produced by PRS Santana signature guitars plugged into multiple amplifiers. The amps consist of a Mesa Boogie Mark I, Dumble Overdrive Reverb and more recently a Bludotone amplifier. Santana compares the tonal qualities of each amplifier to that of a singer producing head/nasal tones, chest tones, and belly tones. A three-way amp switcher is employed on Carlos’s pedal board to enable him to switch between amps. Often the unique tones of each amplifier are blended together, complementing each other producing a richer tone.
He also put the “Boogie” in Mesa Boogie. Santana is credited with coining the popular Mesa amplifier name when he tried one and exclaimed, “That little thing really Boogies!”
Specifically, Santana combines a Mesa/Boogie Mark I head running through a Boogie cabinet with Altec 417-8H (or recently JBL E120s) speakers, and a Dumble Overdrive Reverb and/or a Dumble Overdrive Special running through a Brown or Marshall 4×12 cabinet with Celestion G12M “Greenback” speakers, depending on the desired sound. Shure KSM-32 microphones are used to pick up the sound, going to the PA. Additionally, a Fender Cyber-Twin Amp is mostly used at home.
During his early career Santana used a GMT transistor amplifier stack and a silverface Fender Twin. The GMT 226A rig was used at the Woodstock concert as well as during recording Santana’s debut album. During this era Santana had also began to use the Fender Twin, which was also used on the debut and proceedingly at the recording sessions of Abraxas.
Carlos Santana became a naturalized US citizen in 1965.
On October 19, 2007, his wife of 34 years, Deborah Santana, filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”.
Carlos Santana became engaged to drummer Cindy Blackman, after proposing to her during a concert of the Universal Tone Tour at Tinley Park in Chicago, Illinois, on July 9, 2010. The two were married in December 2010.They currently live in Las Vegas.
Main articles: Carlos Santana discography and Santana (band) discography
Love Devotion Surrender (1973)
Oneness – Silver Dreams Golden Reality (1979)
The Swing of Delight (1980)
Havana Moon (1983)
Blues for Salvador (1987)
Santana Brothers (1994)
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