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carlos santana

Born in the Mexican village of Autlan De Navarro on July 20, 1947, Carlos Santana's earliest musical influence was his father José, an accomplished mariachi violinist, who introduced him to traditional Mexican music. When he was eight, his family relocated to Tijuana. It was in this border town that young Carlos heard the sounds of blues greats John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and T-Bone Walker on local radio stations.

He had initially taken up the violin, but switched to guitar to emulate his new musical heroes. Just a few years later, he began performing with local bands like The T.J.s along the vibrant "Tijuana Strip."

In 1961, Santana joined the rest of his family, who had moved to San Francisco the previous year. In 1966, amid the growing Bay Area rock scene, the Santana Blues Band made their debut performance. By 1969, they had earned a reputation as a solid live act, and graduated to the main stage at the historic Woodstock Festival.

The Santana Band's eponymous debut for Columbia entered the charts a month after their Woodstock appearance, and would go on to sell over two million copies during its two-year run on the charts. The album also produced the band's first big radio hit, as "Evil Ways" broke into the top ten. Santana's sophomore release, Abraxas (1970), did even better, topping the Billboard album chart for six weeks, and going quadruple platinum in the process. The album contained the hit singles "Black Magic Woman" and a cover of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va."

Santana III was the No. 1 record for five weeks during the fall of '71. Carlos followed this up with a 1972 collaboration with drummer Buddy Miles, who had previously played with Jimi Hendrix. The Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles: Live! album, recorded in Hawaii's Diamond Head volcanic crater, followed its predecessors into the top ten.

While the hit singles may have dried up by this point in his career, Santana continued to release top-selling albums through the remainder of the '70s. With his band, highlights include Caravanserai (1972), Borboletta (1974), Amigos (1976), and the double live Moonflower (1977). He also released instrumental, jazz-fusion collaborations like Love Devotion Surrender (1973) with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, and Illuminations (1974) with Turiya Alice Coltrane, where he was credited as "Devadip Carlos Santana." In 1977, Santana became the first band to receive CBS's Crystal Globe Award for selling over five million records internationally.

While the Santana Band was still a top concert draw, by the time the '70s became the '80s, it seemed that Carlos' days as a major force on the album charts had severely waned. In 1980, he produced a more straight-ahead jazz album, The Swing of Delight, with former Miles Davis sidemen (and stars in their own right) Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams.

Santana experienced a mini-comeback with the release of 1981's Zebop!. The album became his first to crack the top 10 in several years, and produced a top 20 single in "Winning." The band followed this up with Shango (1982), while Carlos' 1983 solo effort, Havana Moon, included collaborations with country star Willie Nelson, R&B legend Booker T. Jones, and blues-rockers The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

On July 20, 1986, the Santana Band celebrated their 20th anniversary with a concert in San Francisco, reuniting all 17 past and present members on stage. The following year found the guitar master contributing to the score of La Bamba, the film about Mexican-American rock 'n' roll pioneer Ritchie Valens. That same year, he participated in the Rock 'n' Roll Summit, the first-ever joint US-Soviet rock concert. A Santana Band album, Freedom (1987), was quickly followed up with Carlos' solo effort, Blues For Salvador (1987), which earned Carlos his first Grammy in the category of Best Rock Instrumental.

Santana kicked off his fourth decade in music with Spirits Dance In The Flesh (1990), which was also his final album for the Columbia label. He signed with Polydor, which created his own custom label, "Guts and Grace," and released Milagro in 1992. The following year's Sacred Fire: Live In South America was followed by Brothers (1994), a family affair featuring nephew Carlos Hernandez and brother Jorge. On August 14, 1994, Santana and his band performed at Woodstock II, 25 years after their breakthrough performance at the original festival.

In 1996, Santana received Billboard magazine's Century Award for lifetime achievement. Two years later, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Also in '98, señor Santana and wife Deborah created the Milagro Foundation, which supports educational efforts to help youngsters live healthy, literate and culturally enriched lives. The guitarist's personally designed line of footwear, "Carlos" by Carlos Santana, appeared in stores around this time. A portion of the proceeds from shoe sales is donated to the foundation.

Santana released his debut album for Arista Records in June 1999. Supernatural would go on to be the crowning glory of his 30 years as a recording artist, becoming his first chart-topper since 1971. The album went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide, produce two long running No. 1 singles ("Smooth" and "Maria, Maria," for 12 and 10 weeks respectively), and win an incredible nine Grammys in February 2000 (eight of which went to Carlos), including Album, Record and Song of the Year (the latter two for "Smooth").

In October 2002, Shaman entered the Billboard album charts at No. 1. The disc, like its predecessor, included collaborations with diverse artists such as Chad Kroeger, Musiq and Dido. "The Game Of Love," featuring Michelle Branch on vocals, made the top five on the singles charts. Santana recently recorded a song, "Whatever Happens," with Michael Jackson, which can be found on the King of Pop's Invincible. Just the adjective to describe Santana himself.

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