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Santana Profile

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One of the most influential and long-lived US rock groups, Santana, almost synonymous with Mexico-born guitarist Carlos Santana, first started its 30-plus-year career under the name of the Santana Blues Band in 1966. Among the original lineup were Carlos Santana (b. 1947, guitar), Gregg Rolie (b. 1948, keyboard/vocal) and Michael Shrieve (drums). The group shortened its name to Santana shortly after and released their self-titled debut in 1969. They had already established their original Latin rock style and had been famous among rock fans, spurred by their good performance at the historic event, Woodstock. That led to their landmark 1970's album 'Abraxas', which included Santana's best-known songs 'Black Magic Woman', 'Oye Como Va' and 'Samba Pa Ti'. The album spent six weeks on the top of the US chart, followed by 1971's 'Santana III'.

To infuse new life into their sound, Santana added a sixteen-year-old second guitarist Neal Schon and released 'Caravanserai' in 1972. The album was more spiritualized largely because of Carlos Santana's devotion to a religion. The band was, though, split up between Santana and Rolie, resulting in Rolie and Schon's departure from the group to form Journey. With Leon Thomas on vocal, the three-disc live album 'Lotus' was recorded 1973 in Japan and featured an elaborate coverart by Japanese modern artist Tadanori Yokoo.

After a few years of fusion-oriented sounds (1973's 'Welcome' and 1974's 'Borboletta'), Santana returned to its basics, Latin rock with 'Amigos' (1977). Best known for the wistful instrumental classic 'Europa', the album marked the major comeback for the band on the mainstream. Throughout late '70s and '80s, while releasing a series of rock/R&B oriented albums such as 'Inner Secrets' (1978) and 'Beyond Appearances' (1985), Santana collaborated with a variety of artists including Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter ('Swing Of Delight'), Buddy Miles ('Live', 'Freedom', 1987) and John Lee Hooker.

1991 saw the death of two of the most influential men on Santana - Bill Graham, the promoter who helped Santana to debut and appear on the historic event, Woodstock, and Miles Davis, Santana's longtime idol. Santana devoted to them his 1992 album 'Milagro', which saw the revival of his signature Latin rock. It took seven years for the heartbroken Santana to begin work on the next album, but that was worth it, considering the huge success of 'Supernatural', which once again shone the spotlight on him. The album earned him the honor of being the only artist to win eight Grammys at a time beside Michael Jackson, and spawned two No.1 hits, 'Smooth' featuring Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas and 'Maria Maria' featuring the Product G&B. It was more than 30 years after the debut that his career reached the height and his original music ruled the world.

'Supernatural' was followed by 2002's 'Shaman', another powerhouse album that quickly achieved platinum status in US. The set featured a host of guest musicians, including Michelle Branch (on lead single 'Game Of Love'), Macy Gray, Dido and Chad Kroger of Nickelback. The musical magic man Santana has got the spell on the world again and it won't be broken for long.