Before their first album had even been released, and still relatively unknown, Santana was invited to play the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in August 1969 along with acts like Janis Joplin and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band’s groundbreaking blend of Afro-Latin-blues-rock were a sweet surprise to the audience at Woodstock and it catapulted their first self-titled album to the number one spot on the U.S. charts. Two months after their innovative performance at Woodstock, the band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
On October 26, 1969, Santana performed two songs from their newly released album. Ed Sullivan introduced them as a band from San Francisco with an album that had topped the charts. They performed “Persuasion” and “Jingo” on a dimly-lit stage illuminated by a colorful background of psychedelic light effects. Santana’s hippie wardrobe complemented their tunes and sounds: bandanas over afros, long hair, platform shoes, and groovy patterned clothing. After the instrumental “Persuasion,” there was an abrupt pause, and then the slow and steady rhythm of maracas and congas grew louder and transitioned into Carlos Santana’s guitar solo on the charting single “Jingo.” His body and his guitar became one, moving and flowing to the beat of a sound considered so ahead of its time it didn’t have a genre. The band performed “Jingo” with an ardor and mellow quality that was characteristic of the 1960s. Santana’s fusion of ethereal elements in their music permeated into The Ed Sullivan Show that evening and garnered the band national attention.
Following the breakthrough year of 1969, Santana’s ever-evolving sound has endured decades of praise and fame. Although members have changed, the band has been credited with pioneering a fusion between rock, jazz and salsa. Santana was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Carlos has also been awarded 10 Grammys, 3 Latin Grammys, and was honored with Billboard’s Century Award in 1996 and Billboard Latin Music Awards’ 2009 Lifetime Achievement honor. Their sound has continued to be innovative and universal enough to effortlessly fit in the multi-cultural backdrop of the 21st century.