The Mexican-American classic guitar legend (and 2013 Kennedy Center honoree) shares his life before and beneath the rock ’n’ roll spotlight with the assistance of Kahn (The House that Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, 2006, etc.) and Miller.
In this frank and impassioned memoir, iconic, influential musician Santana, 67, known for fusing rock and Latin rhythms, weaves together the rhythmic, domestic and spiritual dimensions of his career. A meager, rocky childhood was spent traversing southwestern Mexico to Tijuana and finally San Francisco, all while being greatly influenced by a disciplinarian mother and a romantic, violinist father who “lived to play, and he played to live…what musicians are meant to do.” Generously reflective and well-balanced, Santana’s memoir glides across autobiographical anecdotes of his joyful immersion in music theory and guitar lessons yet also addresses the intense emotional pain and confusion of being molested as a boy. Santana’s burgeoning career as a blues-appreciative guitarist bloomed through decades steeped in Bill Graham–produced shows at the legendary Fillmore venue, admiring Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Doors and the Grateful Dead, then into the psychedelic Summer of Love and the first formation of his Latin rock group Santana Blues Band in 1967. Complementing the uproarious stories of the band’s tours are reflections on his personal life, his 34-year marriage and subsequent remarriage, and an exhaustive listing of his friendships with rock luminaries. Charismatic and soulful, Santana writes with the benefit of what he calls a “celestial memory,” whereby only the blessings and beauty of life are measured and celebrated. Even readers skimming for tabloid dirt may be swayed by the respectful purity of Santana’s recollections; his moments of struggle and frustration are handled with the same dignity and grace as his many triumphs.
An appreciative and unpretentious chronicle, this is required reading for Santana fans and devotees of classic rock legends.