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Carlos Santana Carlos Santana

Best known the world over for the group that bears his name, Carlos Santana has been reinventing and reshaping the landscape of the known universe's musical culture for close to four decades. A visionary artist with no regards for genre boundaries, Carlos' fluid sound long ago laid claim to the concept of “world music” before the term ever surfaced on pop culture radar. Having evolved and expanded for over four decades, the “Carlos” sound could well be on its way to becoming interplanetary music.

Born in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico•where there's now a street and public square in his name—to the son of a virtuoso Mariachi violinist, Carlos followed in his father's musical footsteps, taking up the violin at the age of five. It was when his family moved to Tijuana several years later, however, that Santana began his lifelong relationship with the instrument that would make him a musical icon•-the guitar. Early on he emulated his heroes•-John Lee Hooker, T. Bone Walker, and B.B. King•who he heard on powerful American radio stations when their signals crossed the border.

In 1961, Carlos made the crossing himself, moving from his native Mexico to San Francisco. A few years later, he formed the Santana Blues Band there, and the cool, soulful riffs and rhythms of his Latin-blues based sound found an audience eager for his innovative musical ideas. Carlos and company emerged as giants of the era-defining Bay Area music scene of the late '60s, and their fame grew far beyond its parameters while their artistry remained true to its free-flying spirit.

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