Carlos Santana was born in Jalisco, the son of a mariachi, and grew up in that stateless borderland between Tijuana and San Francisco playing first the violin, then the guitar. There was a breadth to his musical education:
If I would go to some cat’s room, he’d be listening to Sly and Jimi Hendrix; another guy to the Stones and the Beatles. Another guy’d be listening to Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaría. Another guy’d be listening to Miles and Coltrane. To me, it was like being at a university. (source)
There’s an intoxicating moment about 3:30 into this this video of a live performance of Soul Sacrifice at Tanglewood in the summer of 1970.
He’s finished with the opening solo, and wanders off as he hands the song over to the band’s drummers and bass player (a joyous propulsion that is one of the reasons this is one of my favorite versions of one of my favorite songs).
Then he returns, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, now without his guitar, and finds a cowbell to join the rhythm section.
He had just turned 23.