Carlos Santana – Gitano Gypsy
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Carlos Santana (born July 20, 1947) is a Mexican and American musician who first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American music.
The band’s sound featured his melodic, blues-based guitar lines set against Latin and African rhythms featuring percussion instruments such as timbales and congas not generally heard in rock music. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades.
He experienced a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He has won 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.
Carlos Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. He learned to play the violin at age five and the guitar at age eight. His younger brother, Jorge Santana, would also become a professional guitarist. Young Carlos was heavily influenced by Ritchie Valens at a time when there were very few Latinos in American rock and pop music.
The family moved from Autlán de Navarro to Tijuana, the city on Mexico’s border with California, and then San Francisco. Carlos stayed in Tijuana but later joined his family in San Francisco, graduating from James Lick Middle School and in 1965 from Mission High School. Carlos was accepted at California State University, Northridge, and Humboldt State University, but chose not to attend college.
He got the chance to see his idols (most notably B.B. King) perform live in San Francisco. He was also introduced to a variety of new musical influences, including jazz and folk music and witnessed the growing hippie movement centered in San Francisco in the 1960s.
After several years spent working as a dishwasher in a diner and busking for spare change, Santana decided to become a full-time musician. In 1966 he gained prominence due to a series of accidental events, all happening on the same day.
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