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 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, including collaborations with Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Booker T. Jones, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Carlos Santana legendarily 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.