Magazine article Guitar Player

Carlos Santana. (Encore)

Magazine article Guitar Player

Carlos Santana. (Encore)

Article excerpt

Few guitarists have enjoyed the enduring artistic and commercial success of Carlos Santana. In these edited excerpts from our June 1978 cover story, Santana reflects on some of the influential music he encountered shortly after his arrival in America from Tijuana.

How old were you when you came to San Francisco?

It was 1962, so I must have been 12 or 13. It was a drag, because they put me back into junior high because I couldn't speak English. I had to adapt to a whole other way of thinking and being around kids, because I thought I was a man of the world after playing in this nightclub in Tijuana and watching ladies strip. To me, I was a grown-up, hut when I came here, I had to live the life of a young adolescent all over again, and I couldn't relate.

When you moved to San Francisco, did you get into the white blues movement that was happening at the time?

My American friends would be listening to the Dave Clark Five and the Beach Boys, and I couldn't stand that. I'd say, "Why are you into these guys? They aren't even saying nothing, man. Listen to Ray Charles and Bobby Bland." All of a sudden, two things hit me: One was seeing Paul Butterfield and Muddy Waters, and the other was Cream's first record. It totally turned me around. I thought, "How can these guys play blues like that?"

Did that lead you to search out records by older bluesmen?

Yeah, yeah. I got into Little Milton and all those people. I think the blues is about the most beautiful contribution that the black man has given to the United States, because anybody can claim them. …

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