Carlos Santana Credit: Ruben Martin

Carlos Santana is arguably one of the most influential guitarists of all time; born in Jalisco, Mexico, the musician, bandleader, and longtime social activist has been incorporating Mexican, Latin American, and other international sounds into rock ’n’ roll and blues since the mid-60s. Now 72, he’s won practically every prize the music industry has to offer, racking up ten Grammys, three Latin Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honors medallion, a Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award, and more. This year Santana celebrates three seminal musical events: the 50th anniversary of his band’s stellar performance at the Woodstock festival, the subsequent release of their debut album, Santana (which went triple platinum, sold more than four million copies, and remained on the charts for more than two years), and the 20th anniversary of their 1999 comeback record, Supernatural. In June, Santana and his band released their 25th studio album, Africa Speaks, and he described it to NPR Music’s Alt.Latino program as having a direct connection to the beats that inspired his 1969 debut. His careful attention to his African muses, expressed in an inimitable blend of rock, jazz, Latin grooves, and Bay Area psychedelia, is part of what gives his music its timeless magic and lyrical beauty—as Prince proclaimed in a 1985 Rolling Stone interview, Santana influenced him more as a guitarist than Jimi Hendrix because he “played prettier.” Santana is known for vibrant jam-session-style concerts, and while his current tour, dubbed “Supernatural Now,” includes numbers from Africa Speaks, it centers on his hits, including crowd-pleasing singles such as “Oye Como Va.” Tito Puente wrote the tune in 1962, but Santana’s 1971 cover made it even more iconic: as he sings on its famous refrain, “Mi ritmo / Bueno pa’ gozar” (“My rhythm / It’s great for partying”). We’ll be dancing to his rhythms for generations to come.   v