Carlos Santana

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Santana was influenced by popular artists of the 1950s such as B. B. King, T-Bone Walker, and John Lee Hooker. Soon after he began playing guitar, he joined local bands along the "Tijuana Strip" where he was able to begin adding his own unique touch to '50s Rock 'n' Roll. 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. Santana was a frequent spectator at Bill Graham's Fillmore West. During a Sunday matinee show, Paul Butterfield was slated to perform there but was unable to do so as a result of being intoxicated. Graham assembled an impromptu band of musicians he knew primarily through his connections with Butterfield's band and with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but he had not yet chosen all the guitarists. Santana's manager, Stan Marcum, immediately suggested to Graham that Santana join the impromptu band and Graham agreed. During the jam session, Santana's guitar playing and solo gained the notice of both the audience and Graham. During the same year, Santana formed the Santana Blues Band, with fellow street musicians David Brown (bass guitar), Marcus Malone (percussion) and Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, Hammond Organ B3). He was later signed to Columbia where his band name, "Santana Blues Band" was shortened to, "Santana" that released a series of hit albums with an Afro-Cuban and Latin Rock feel thanks to Carlos' exquisite guitar playing, characterized by the self-sustaining melody that became his trademark.

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