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In the summer of 1966, guitarist Carlos Santana and keyboardist/vocalist Greg Rolie gathered some other musicians to form what was originally called the Santana Blues Band. Gathering an ever-bigger following around San Francisco, they attracted the notice of budding impresario Bill Graham, and soon had regular gigs at the Fillmore West. After shortening their name to "Santana," the band burst on the national scene with a blistering performance at Woodstock, followed by a successful debut album and, in 1970, the perennial classic Abraxas.

Santana and Rolie ultimately parted ways in 1972; while Rolie went on to work with Journey, recently founded by Santana alum Neal Schon, Carlos Santana retained rights to the band name -- and has made constant changes in the lineup since. At the same time, he's never been afraid to experiment with new styles, which has kept the band's output fresh, if sometimes uneven, over the decades. So, while there's the occasional regrettable outing such as disco apocalypse Inner Secrets, the Santana band has managed to rebound with critical, artistic and commercial successes -- most recently with blockbusters Supernatural and Shaman.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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