We do not write much about albums that invented and created a new musical genre, the debut album of "Santana", released on August 30, 1969, is one of them.
We're talking about the "Latin Rock" genre that was born today in 1969, when Santana released their debut album.
It is a subgenre of Rock that consists of a great mix of styles, mainly Rock, Blues, Cuban music, African rhythms as well as touches of Folk, Jazz, and Psychedelia.
So to understand what led to the creation of the new music genre, we need to go back to the Latin Quarter in San Francisco in 1966.
Guitarist Carlos Santana, a native-born of Mexico, accepted the invitation of guitarist Tom Fraser who wanted to form a new rock band. They were joined by Marcus Malone on percussion, Rod Harper on drums, Sergio "Gus" Rodriguez on bass, and keyboardist and singer Gregg Rolie, thus creating the band's first lineup.
In the beginning, the band was called "Santana Blues Band" but later its name was shortened to "Santana".
Beginning in 1967 the band performed at local clubs, but had difficulty obtaining a recording contract. At the time Carlos Santana was working as a dishwasher in restaurants and tour organizer Chet Helms even advised him to keep his job as he did not see a future for the band.
(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives)
The struggle for success was showing its signs, and until the band manages to secure a recording contract with Columbia in 1969, only Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie, and Marcus Malone remain members of the original line-up. Later they were joined by David Brown on bass, Michael Shrieve on drums, and Michael Carabello and José "Chepito" Areas both on percussion.
The band members entered the recording studio in May 1969. Most of the original material on the album was born from jam sessions and improvisations, which is probably why four of the nine tracks included in the album are instrumental tracks.
Members of "Santana" were unaware that the magic they created during those jam sessions, would actually give birth to a new musical style.
Lucky for the band their manager Bill Graham was asked to help organize the iconic Woodstock Festival.
Graham agreed to help, but on one condition, that "Santana" will be added to the list of artists that perform at the festival. This condition turned out to be one of Graham's ingenious moves, which brought the band a lot of international publicity and launched the sales figures of their debut album, which was released exactly two weeks after that historic festival.
"Santana" performed on the afternoon of the second day of the Woodstock Festival, August 16, 1969. It was one of the best performances at the festival, thanks in part to the impressive, improvised, and exciting performance of the instrumental track "Soul Sacrifice".
Following their successful performance at the Woodstock Festival, "Santana" became the talk of the day, and their debut album, released two weeks later, reached number four on the Billboard 200. The hit "Evil Ways" originally recorded by Willie Bobo in 1965 was ranked among the top ten most played songs in 1969 in the United States.
The first single released from the album was "Jingo", an adaptation of the 1960 "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba", by Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, who also received credit for writing. This piece well illustrates the band's unique style. The African rhythms produced by drummer Mike Shrieve, accompanied by the two percussionists Carabello and Areas, are combined with the Latin touches from Santana's guitar.
The reviews praised, and the headlines heralded the arrival of a new musical style. Rolling Stone magazine called the album "Masterpiece of Technique."
This album has rightly won the 150th place on the Rolling Stone list of 500 greatest albums of all time.