Carlos Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico as a fourth-generation musician, a son of a violinist who played mariachi music. In 1955, his family moved to Tijuana, where he began playing guitar in nightclubs. His family moved again to San Francisco when he was a teenager, where he started working as a dishwasher and formed his own band. The band evolved in San Francisco’s Latin district, pioneering an innovative fusion of rock, fiery Afro-Latin polyrhythms, and contrasting cool, low-key vocals. Although Santana was still uncomfortable as a bandleader, he lent his name to the group, Santana Blues Band, which gained popularity locally, leading them to Woodstock. Their overwhelming success at the festival earned them a deal with Colombia, soon after releasing their debut LP, which went double platinum. Santana continued to evolve with his band and even recorded his own music separately. Now, his music is being sampled by artists including DJ Khaled, Rihanna, and Bryson.
Growing up in Tijuana, Santana was surrounded by marijuana,“When I was a child, I worked in an herb store. I’ve seen and smelled weed all my life, because I grew up in Tijuana. But people wouldn’t do it around me; they purposely would go in the alleys and places.” He remembers his mom using it for different ailments after soaking the bud in alcohol for a day or two. Although he grew up around marijuana, he didn’t actually smoke it until he moved to San Francisco. He believes that cannabis promotes uniqueness and individuality, “It’s tried, true and tested healing, you know? Where I am right now is that I keep believing there’s some way to correct the crooked, twisted mindset of humans. It’s almost like we’re at the end of our rope—there’s too much fear out there.” He then referred to marijuana as “the gift” because it makes you think with a different mind.