Carlos Santana, known to the world (especially the record-buying world of the 1960s and 1970s) as a great guitarist who fronted a band that managed to win one Grammy Award1 in its 30 year career, has enjoyed something of a spectacular comeback and revival. Among the generation that came after the 'Woodstock' generation, there now exists a whole new group of people who consider Carlos Santana to be one of the greatest musicians, not just of the 1960s and 1970s, but of all time.
At the time of writing, Carlos Santana's latest offering - the 'comeback' album, Supernatural - had raked in an amazing total of nine Grammy Awards. Those that had never heard of him before wanted to know where he came from all of a sudden; where he'd been all of these past years; and most importantly, why hadn't he produced the hits that he produced in this his latest album, in his other previous albums?
Santana's latest album has been his biggest success. As previously stated, at the 42nd Grammy Awards on 23 February, 2000, Carlos Santana was awarded a staggering nine Grammys for stuff ranging from best songs to best album of the year. Five of the 12 songs on the record received Grammys, more than any other artist that evening. His biggest hit on the album, 'Smooth' was the number one record on Billboard's Hot 100 charts for 12 consecutive weeks and the longest running number one single of 19992.
Carlos' career was assumed by many to be coming to a close; his recent albums (most notably Chill Out, Brothers, and Into the Storm) were all characterised by their distinct lack of sales. It seemed that Santana's career was waning away into obscurity. But the story wasn't over just yet...
Carlos was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, cited for being for being a highly influential musician and for being partly responsible for the existing new style of Latin rock music. But that's not all. To the amazement of many, rather than this lifetime achievement award acting as a kind of postscript to a finished career, Santana went on to record a new album, Supernatural, which was a totally massive success. Since its release, it has gone 'Diamond' (it has sold over 10 million copies) joining the ranks of some of the greatest albums of all time; in fact, only 23 albums, at the time of writing, have sold 10 million copies or more.
So, how did he do it? On Supernatural, nine of the 14 songs (counting the bonus track) feature guest performers including Eagle Eye-Cherry, Dave Matthews Band and Everlast. On his other albums, Santana rarely played with guest performers; it was primarily his own band who performed. The infusion of the other bands' styles has led to a totally different type of music and, in the opinion of many, to a better sounding music. The artists who played with him agree too. Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band says that playing with Carlos was one of the best experiences he's ever had. Sometimes it's this cooperation between artists that produces great hits, feeding off each other's enthusiasm and adrenaline. When one artist performs well, it helps the others perform even better. Santana is a great example of this, it seems as if every time he plays with another artist, his music gets even better.
Santana's cooperation with other artists boosted sales so much that during the week of 20 - 26 February, sales of Santana's Supernatural, which was number one in the national charts, more than tripled sales of the number two selling album at the time3, accumulating more sales than any of his previous albums put together. Talk about ending your career on a high note... and maybe it's not ended yet! Watch this space.