Born in 1947, in a small Mexican village
, Carlos Santana was
destined to be a musician
. His father, José, who was an expert mariachi
violinist, had taught him the cultural music
on the violin
still influences his unique style. In 1955, his family moved to Tijuana
Carlos was introduced to the guitar
, which quickly replaced the violin as his
instrument of choice. By the age of eight, he was playing the music of B.B.
, T-Bone Walker
, and John Lee Hooker
It did not take long for Carlos to join local bands,
which allowed him to develop his own style while playing popular rock 'n roll from the 50's. In 1960, Carlos's family moved to San
Francisco leaving him behind. Although this was traumatic for him, it allowed
his continuing musical development with local bands. A year later, Carlos moved
north to San Francisco. Although his life had changed with this move, he still
wanted to play music. He spent the next five years finishing the development
of his style of music.
In 1966, Carlos created the Santana Blues Band, which, in two years, went
from San Francisco's Fillmore West to their appearance at Woodstock in 1969.
Carlos had finally unleashed his mix of rock, blues, and Afro-Cuban guitar
onto the world, and the world received it happily.
Since then, Carlos has reached many achievements as an artist and as a
person. Among his musical accomplishments are over 30 albums, a 1988 Grammy
for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, a 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame (which Carlos himself thought would never happen), and on August
17, 1998, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Carlos has played in many different bands throughout the years, occasionally
going solo or starting new groups. He has also teamed up with other successful
musicians and given guest appearances on other people's album.
However, music is not the only reason Carlos has reached such a level of
respect. His humanitarian accomplishments easily equal those of his musical
career. Carlos has been involved in "Blues for Salvador," the San Francisco
Earthquake relief, Tijuana orphans, and numerous other charitable events.
Carlos, along with his wife, Deborah, founded the Milagro Foundation. The
Milagro Foundation provides financial assistance for educational, medical, and
housing needs of children throughout the world.
For his humanitarian efforts, Carlos has received plenty of recognition. In
1986, Carlos received the Commendation for Achievement & Support in California
from Governor George Deukmejian. San Francisco declared June 6, 1987, Santana
Day due to his commendable deeds. The list goes on.
Ever since he began his career as a musician, Carlos has always remembered
where he originated. He feels that his Latin heritage is very important, and
has long been an advocate of Spanish-Americans. He predicted that the negative
feelings towards Hispanics would develop into a general acceptance of
Latin culture in America.
Carlos is deeply devoted to religion and spirituality and became a
born-again Christian with his wife around 1992. He believes that God will
answer to those who need Him most, not the person who memorizes the Bible.
Carlos holds ethics above all else and has been given much praise from his peers
in the music industry. Eric Clapton called Carlos "the sweetest man I know."
John Lee Hooker said, "He's one of the greatest men I've ever worked with, a
Carlos believes that compromising one's ethics for any reason
is horrible. His feelings on ethics have caused him to turn down two different
offers from President Clinton to play at different events,
because he does not believe politicians are not honest.
On the one of the occasions, he was invited by the request of Mexican President
Ernesto Zedillo. Although Carlos was honored, he once again turned it down,
saying “I haven't seen him make progress toward civil rights for the Indians
in Chiapas, and until he does, I can't feel oneness with him."
Carlos Santana is both an accomplished musician and a good human. He respects
his fellow man, his Hispanic roots, and his ethics. His genre-breaking music
took the industry by surprise and captured the minds of millions, and his
humanitarian efforts have helped people across the world. Through music and his
deep belief in God and spirituality, he has reached something most people can
only dream of: happiness.