When it comes to lifelong influences, few guitarists have had as much impact on Trey as Carlos Santana. See, for example, the 9/13/90 “Landlady,” which was dedicated to his spirit, or Trey’s remarks about him in The Phish Book.
Popular music and mainstream radio caught onto Santana in 1999, with the release of the nine-Grammy-winning, multi-platinum Supernatural. The album contained the longest-running number-one single of the year, “Smooth,” a famous collaboration with Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas that ruled the airwaves for months. These were not his first Grammys, though: He won in 1988 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. And this was far from his first album: It was his 36th, in a recording career that began in 1969. More than 15 of them have been certified gold or platinum. All told, he has taken rock and roll and blended it with blues and classic Latin styles and sold over fifty million records and played to over thirty million fans.
Among his most famous compositions are “Samba Pa Ti” and “Soul Sacrifice,” and he is well-known for covers of Sonny Henry’s “Evil Ways,” Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va.” In his career, Carlos has recorded albums of his own material with Buddy Miles, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Willie Nelson and Booker T. Jones. He scored the film La Bamba, participated in Woodstock (the band’s breakthrough show) and its 1994 successor, played at the 1987 Rock ‘n’ Roll Summit, and toured in 1988 with renowned jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter. He has also been a philanthropist, contributing to such causes as Blues for Salvador, San Francisco Earthquake Relief, Tijuana Orphans and various Latin youth education associations.
In addition to his Grammys, Carlos has been a highly decorated artist. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was an inaugural member of its Bay Music Area counterpart, the Bammy Hall of Fame. He has also received multiple Best Guitarist and Musician of the Year awards from the Bammys and has been named Latino Music Legend of the Year by the Chicano Music Awards. In 1996, Billboard magazine honored him for his lifetime achievements with their Century Award; in 1998, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And somewhere in all this, he found the time to influence and play with Phish. Twice he gave Phish the opportunity to tour with and open for his band. He invited them to join him on stage for most shows of their Summer 1992 tour, as well as on 7/2/96 and 7/19/96. When Trey and Page were in the Bay Area for the “Phil and Phriends” shows, they also sat in with Santana on 4/18/99. In turn, he twice joined them: for “You Enjoy Myself,” “Llama” and “Funky Bitch” on 7/25/92 and for “Llama” and “Taste” on 7/3/96. The 1992 show remains one of the most widely circulated Phish recordings. He also joined Trey’s solo band for much of its show on 5/31/03 in San Francisco, including outstanding performances of “Last Tube” and “Mr. Completely.”
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