Carlos Santana Plays Guitar Hero

Carlos Santana

In 1968, record mogul Clive Davis signed a young Carlos Santana to his label. Clive’s fascination with the unique sound Santana was bringing to the scene started a relationship and a career partnership that has lasted over 40 years. After years of numerous album sales and countless prestigious music awards, Davis approached Santana with a plan for the next phase of his career.

In 1997, Clive Davis set out on a personal mission. His goal was to get Carlos Santana played on the radio again. Sure, “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” could be heard on the classic rock stations, but Clive’s mission was to get Carlos played on the more mainstream rock stations. In 1999, after two years in the making, the album Supernatural was released, fusing Santana with (some of rock’s most well known musicians at the time) Rob Thomas, Michelle Branch, Seal, and Dave Matthews. The mission was successful and the album blew up, selling 15 million copies and winning 9 Grammy awards; the songs from that record are still heard on radio stations across the country.

So, when Clive Davis approached Santana about a new project that would have Santana covering some of rock’s most sacred ground, Santana was hesitant. The turning point, Clive reveals on Santana’s website, is “when Carlos called me up in the imitable Santana way and said ‘You know I have really just trusted three people, I’ve trusted Billy Graham, I’ve trusted Miles Davis musically, and I have trusted you. This is a time for a renewal of that trust, I will proceed.’”

Carlos Santana’s new album is entitled Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time. It features Carlos teaming up with top name talent, a la Supernatural, as he runs through some of rock’s greatest riffs. The opening salvo is fired when Carlos lassos the atomic wail of Chris Cornell to anchor the vocals on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The second song keeps the joint jumping with the Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” with Scott Weiland at the microphone. After that, the album features Rob Thomas and Carlos re-capturing some of the Supernatural magic and turning in a rocking “Sunshine of Your Love.”

One of my favorites is Van Halen’s “Dance The Night Away” featuring some funky rhythms, Carlos’ fancy fingers, and Pat Monahan of Train. There are some interesting choices of material, too–Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” and vocalist Nas on “Back In Black,” but overall, I could listen to Santana play just about anything.

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