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Music & Entertainment

Carlos Santana Top Songs and Albums

Written by MasterClass

Dec 21, 2018 • 3 min read

Carlos Santana was born on July 20, 1947 in Autlán de Navarro in the state of Jalisco, located in west-central Mexico. His father was a mariachi musician who taught Carlos music from a young age, starting with violin and then later guitar. In Carlos’s youth, the family moved to Tijuana and eventually to the United States, settling in San Francisco.

From an early age, Carlos was inspired by the guitarists of North America’s nascent rock ’n’ roll scene. From Tijuana influences to the Chicano rock music of Ritchie Valens to the blues mastery of John Lee Hooker and B.B. King, Carlos quickly found music he personally bonded with. But it was San Francisco, and its thriving blues and jam scenes, that would give Carlos his launchpad.

Carlos has maintained a dynamic pres- ence across multiple genres since his early ‘70s breakout, with his biggest commercial success coming via the 30x platinum (worldwide) selling album Supernatural, released in 1999. Now, over 50 years after the debut of the Santana Blues Band (which was later shortened to simply Santana), Carlos continues to reign as one of rock’s most prominent guitarists.

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Written by MasterClass

Dec 21, 2018 • 3 min read

9 Essential Carlos Santana Albums

Carlos has spent the past five decades deeply immersed in music and has released dozens of recorded albums. To get you started on your Santana listening journey, here are some essentials he recorded with the band, solo, and as collaborations with others:

1. Santana (1969)

Carlos upended the San Francisco jam scene with his band’s debut recording. Whereas established SF rock improvisers like the Grateful Dead had drawn heavily from folk and country, Santana introduced Latin, European, and Indian influences to the mix, creating a sound that was uniquely their own.

Santana (1969)
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2. Abraxas (1970)

One year after their recorded debut, Santana became stars with this record. It features two of the band’s all-time classics, “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” (a mash-up of original songs by Peter Green and Gábor Szabó) and “Oye Como Va” by the acclaimed Tito Puente. Abraxas is the record that defined Santana for a generation.

Abraxas (1970)
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3. Santana III (1971)

The follow up to Abraxas, Santana III was critically acclaimed and reached #1 on the charts. The album also introduced 17-year-old guitarist Neal Schon, who would later go on to form the band Journey.

Santana III (1971)
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4. Caravanserai (1972)

Continuing their streak, Santana released their fourth album in as many years. This one pushed deeper into jazz fusion rather than the hits of the earlier recordings. After parting ways with the original line up, the new band took more risks, and was accordingly rewarded. Clive Davis called the album “career suicide,” but Caravanserai remains an important work, and a favorite amongst Santana fans.

Caravanserai (1972)
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5. Love Devotion Surrender (1973)

This record is notable because it pairs Carlos with English guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin. Like Carlos, McLaughlin is a deeply spiritual individual—famous for blending slow, meditative breathing with speed-of-light guitar shredding.

Love Devotion Surrender (1973)
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6. Lotus (1974)

A band like Santana is made to be heard live, and this two-disc set, recorded live in Japan, opens that door. It’s the next best thing to being there in person.

Lotus (1974) Santana
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7. Zebop! (1981)

The 1980s saw some bands abandon their core sound for a wall of synthesizers, but Santana held true to the Latin-tinged rock that had made them famous. The record features the hit single “Winning,” originally by the British singer Russ Ballard.

Zebop! (1981) Santana
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8. Supernatural (1999)

Although Carlos broke out in the 1970s, his commercial peak actually came with this 1999 record of all-star tracks, which was eventually certified Diamond by the RIAA (meaning it sold over 15 million copies). Billboard ranked the single “Smooth,” with Rob Thomas on vocals and Carlos on lead guitar, as the second most successful song of all time, behind Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.”

Supernatural (1999) Santana
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9. The Power of Peace (2017)

Carlos continues to produce vital music up through the present day, and 2017’s The Power of Peace is one such example. Recorded in collaboration with The Isley Brothers, the record is an incredible journey through some of the immortal soul, funk, blues, rock, jazz, and pop songs that inspired these groundbreaking artists.

The Power of Peace (2017)  Santana
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Top 10 Carlos Santana Songs

According to Billboard charts:

“Smooth” from Supernatural
“Maria Maria” from Supernatural
“Black Magic Woman” from Abraxas
“The Game of Love” from Shaman
“Why Don’t You & I” from Shaman
“Evil Ways” from Santana
“Everybody’s Everything” from Santana III
“Oye Como Va” from Abraxas
“Hold On” from Shangó
“Winning” from Zebop!

Carlos Santana Discography

Love Devotion Surrender (1973)
Illuminations (1974)
Oneness — Silver Dreams Golden Reality (1979)
The Swing of Delight (1980)
Havana Moon (1983)
Blues for Salvador (1987)
Santana Brothers (1994)

Santana Discography

Santana (1969)
Abraxas (1970)
Santana III/Man With an Outstretched Hand (1971)
Caravanserai (1972)
Welcome (1973)
Borboletta (1974)
Amigos (1976)
Festivál (1977)
Moonflower (1977)
Inner Secrets (1978)
Marathon (1979)
Zebop! (1981)
Shangó (1982)
Beyond Appearances (1985)
Freedom (1987)
Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (1990)
Milagro (1992)
Supernatural (1999)
Shaman (2002)
All That I Am (2005)
Guitar Heaven (2010)
Shape Shifter (2012)
Corazón (2014)
Santana IV (2016)

Carlos Santana

Teaches The Art And Soul Of Guitar: Find the heart of your sound

With 10 Grammys and almost 50 years on stage, Carlos teaches you his spiritual take on playing guitar. Learn how he weaves emotion, artistic expression, and musical styles from across the world to create a sound that transcends genre and connects with audiences. Join Carlos in his studio as he breaks down his process note by note—so you can discover the soul of your sound.

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