The Santana Story

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01Evil Ways - A Latin Fire2010090820110608

Craig Charles presents the story of one of the world's greatest guitarists, Mexican-born Carlos Santana, who burst on to the San Francisco music scene in the late 1960s, playing a unique blend of Latin rock with his band Santana.

A truly original "world music" ambassador, he has sold more than 90 million records, including Evil Ways, Oye Como Va, Black Magic Woman and, more recently, the multi-Grammy award winning album, Supernatural, which attracted a younger generation of Santana fans.

Santana's story is told through the words of Carlos himself; and some of the musicians he has worked with including drummer Michael Shrieve, jazz guitarist and spiritual soul mate John McLaughlin, Scottish singer Alex Ligertwood; record company legend Clive Davis, who signed Santana to Columbia back in 1969; former roadie and soundman Herbie Herbert, who witnessed the original recording band at their peak from the side of the stage; and we hear from the next generation of the Santana musical dynasty, Santana's piano playing son Salvador.

In the first programme, Clive Davis remembers the excitement of signing the Santana band, and early hits like Evil Ways, Jingo, Oye Como Va, and Black Magic Woman.

The marriage worked well and Davis, along with rock promoter Bill Graham, steered the band to major success.

One of their biggest breaks was playing at Woodstock as an unknown band.

Drummer Michael Shrieve remembers looking out at an "ocean of faces" and "just playing for themselves rather than being entertainers".

He also recalls the ambition and focus of the young Carlos Santana.

When Shrieve asked if Carlos wanted to go the cinema, the reply was: "Why would I want to go the movies? I wanna be in the movies.

I wanna be the movie".

We hear how their hard work and constant rehearsing paid off and how the introduction of the Latin rhythms gave Santana a totally unique sound on hits like Samba Pa Ti, on their second album Abraxas.

But with success, came excess, and former roadie Herbie Herbert remembers the spiralling effect.

Despite making a terrific third album, Santana III, the band was self-destructing.

Shrieve and Carlos describe the natural progression into jazz and experimental music which coincided with a more spiritual path and the influence of Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chimnoy.

John McLaughlin, a fellow Sri Chimnoy follower, recalls their spiritual and musical collaboration on the 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender.

Amidst the experimentation, Carlos was under heavy pressure to return to a more commercial rock sound.

No longer a band, but Carlos Santana with backing musicians, he struggled to regain the fire and popularity of that original band.

By the end of the century, Santana records were not hitting the charts anymore, but a comeback was just round the corner with the 15 times platinum album Supernatural.

This documentary first broadcast on Radio 2 in September 2010.

Craig Charles presents the story of one of the world's greatest guitarists, Carlos Santana

02 LASTGuitar Heaven2010091520110615

Craig Charles continues the story of one of the world's greatest guitarists, Mexican-born Carlos Santana, who burst on to the San Francisco music scene in the late 1960s, playing a unique blend of Latin rock with his band Santana.

A truly original "world music" ambassador, he has sold more than 90 million records, including Evil Ways, Oye Como Va, Black Magic Woman and, more recently, the multi-Grammy award winning album, Supernatural, which attracted a younger generation of Santana fans.

In programme two, it's 1999, and a call to Carlos Santana's old record company mentor Clive Davis sets the guitarist back on the road to the very top and the biggest success of his career.

Clive, who originally signed the Santana band to Columbia in 1969, was now heading his own label Arista Records and enjoying great success.

Davis describes the unusual meeting with Carlos, who he hadn't spoken to for over 20 years, in a hotel in Los Angeles.

Carlos' psychic advisor had asked what was missing from his life, and he relied "my teenage children don't hear my music on the radio".

So, after being advised by the advisor to reconnect with the person who guided him when he was having hits, he called Clive Davis.

Seeing Santana was hungry for success and interested in making radio friendly music, they set about teaming Carlos up with the new generation of hit makers like Lauren Hill, Eagle Eye Cherry and Rob Thomas, as well as rock stalwarts like Eric Clapton.

The resulting album - Supernatural - turned out to the biggest success of his career, selling over 27 million copies worldwide.

Davis describes the blueprint, and how they used it for the follow up Shaman, which spawned the massive hit Game Of Love with singer Michelle Branch.

Craig Charles continues the story of one of the world's greatest guitarists.