Santana is an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1966 by Mexican-American guitarist and songwriter Carlos Santana. The band has undergone multiple recording and performing line-ups in its history, with Santana the only consistent member. Santana had early success with their appearance at Woodstock in 1969 and their first three albums, Santana , Abraxas , and Santana III . Other important core members during this period include Gregg Rolie, Michael Carabello, Michael Shrieve, David Brown, and José "Chepito" Areas, forming the "classic" line-up.
Following its initial success Santana experimented with elements of jazz fusion on Caravanserai , Welcome , and Borboletta . Santana reached a new peak of commercial and critical success with Supernatural and its singles "Smooth", featuring singer Rob Thomas, and "Maria Maria". The album reached No. 1 in eleven countries and sold 12 million copies in the US. In 2014, the "classic" line-up reunited for Santana IV and the group continue to perform and record.
Santana is one of the best-selling groups of all time with 43.5 million certified albums sold the US, and an estimated 100 million sold worldwide. Its discography include 25 studio albums, 14 of which reached the US top 10. In 1998, the line-up of Santana, Rolie, Carabello, Shrieve, Brown, and Areas was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2000, the band won six Grammy Awards in one night, a record tied with Michael Jackson, and three Latin Grammy Awards.
The band was formed in San Francisco in 1966 by Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana as the Santana Blues Band with the help of guitarist Tom Fraser. The five-member line-up consisted of Santana on lead guitar, Marcus Malone on percussion, Rod Harper on drums, Sergio "Gus" Rodriguez on bass, and Gregg Rolie on lead vocals and organ. After their first audition, performing with Family Dog at the Avalon Ballroom in the late summer of 1967, concert promoter Chet Helms told the band that they could not achieve success playing Latin-infused rock and suggested Carlos keep his day job as a dishwasher at Tick Tock's Drive-In.
By 1969, the band had secured a record deal with Columbia Records and Bill Graham as manager. Malone had already left the band by this point, as he had been convicted of manslaughter and had started his sentence in San Quentin State Prison. That May, the band entered Pacific Recording Studios in San Mateo, California and recorded their debut album, Santana. Composed mostly of instrumental rock tracks, the album contains their first two singles, "Jingo" and "Evil Ways". To promote their debut album Graham, who was asked to help organise the upcoming Woodstock festival, agreed to on the condition that Santana would be added to the bill. Santana performed a 45-minute set in the afternoon of August 16, the second day. The performance launched the group to international fame, and the album, released on August 30, 1969, peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. "Evil Ways" went to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In April 1970, Santana returned to the studio to record its second album, Abraxas. The album, highlighted by a reworking of "Black Magic Woman" by Fleetwood Mac that peaked at No. 4 in the US Billboard Hot 100, was released in September 1970 and rose to number 1 on the US Billboard 200.
By 1971, the group were still struggling to maintain a strong musical direction. From January to July they recorded Santana III. Released in September 1971, the album also reached number 1 on the US Billboard 200. At the peak of the band's popularity, the album was the last to feature its classic Woodstock era line-up. Santana explained that there was a lot of unnecessary internal resentment and that managerial problems contributed to the problem, leading to Graham's dismissal. That year, they performed at a concert in Accra to commemorate Ghana's 14th Independence Day. The concert was filmed and released as Soul To Soul in theaters.
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