Carlos Santana's father was a mariachi violinist and young Carlos learned the violin originally, but switched to the guitar when he was eight years old. After a family move to Tijuana, Santana began playing in clubs and bars; he remained in Tijuana when his family moved to San Francisco, California, but soon joined them. In 1966, he helped found the Santana Blues Band, eventually shortened to simply Santana. The band started playing at the Fillmore West, where many of the great San Francisco bands began. Santana's recording debut occurred on The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield.
Soon signed to Columbia Records, Santana released a self-titled album, Santana, the group at this point consisting of Carlos Santana (guitar), Gregg Rolie (keyboards and vocals), David Brown (bass guitar), Michael Shrieve (drums), Jose Areas (percussion) and Michael Carabello (percussion). On the tour to support the album, the band played at Woodstock; the set was legendary and vastly increased Santana's popularity. Santana became a huge hit, as did Abraxas (1970) and Santana III (1971). The original Santana band then disbanded. Rolie went on to become a founding member of Journey.
Carlos Santana used the name and a series of changing musicians to continue to tour around the country, releasing several albums. During this period, Carlos took the name "Devadip", bestowed upon him by spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy. Many albums followed in the 1970s and 80s, including collaborations with Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Booker T. Jones, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In 1991, Santana made a guest appearance on Ottmar Liebert's album "Solo Para Ti", on the songs "Reaching Out 2 U" and a cover of his own song, "Samba Pa Ti". He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Carlos Santana dramatically returned to popular consciousness in 1999 upon the release of Supernatural, which included collaborations with Rob Thomas, Eric Clapton and Lauryn Hill and won nine Grammy Awards.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, a list of approximately 150 songs circulated on the Internet, purported to be from radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications to its subsidiaries, with the recommendation that these songs be pulled from airplay (it was later revealed that the list was originally the work of a few specific station program directors, was not an official Clear Channel missive, and changed over time as it was redistributed). Santana's "Evil Ways" was on the list.