I grew up in Palo Alto, California, just a stone’s throw from Stanford University. One of my classmates at Cubberly High School was Gregg Rolie who was in a band with other neighborhood kids called William Penn & His Pals. These guys were a clone band following in the footsteps of Top 40 hitmakers Paul Revere and the Raiders. They even wore the Raiders three point hats and these guys were in demand around town! But after a couple of years of playing high school and club dances with William Penn, Gregg was ready for the next steps in his illustrious career and befriended a guitar player from San Francisco’s Mission High School named Carlos Santana!
After just a few weeks of rehearsals, Gregg called me to let me know that he had just joined a new band from San Francisco and they would be playing one of their first gigs ever in the woman’s gym at Foothill College in Los Altos on the next Wednesday night! I asked him the name of the band and he proudly said, “The Santana Blues Band!” This was one of the very first public gigs that Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie would play together.
I still remember some of the songs they played that night. Cream’s “I’m So Glad,” was one of them and Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman” especially stuck out with Carlos Santana’s Latin jam that the band whipped up on the later song. “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” is still one of Santana’s biggest and most successful songs on the planet today.