Delivered with a level of passion and soul equal to the legendary sonic charge of his guitar, the sound of Carlos Santana is one of the world's best-known musical signatures. For more than four decades—from Santana's earliest days as a groundbreaking Afro-Latin-blues-rock fusion outfit in San Francisco—Carlos has been the visionary force behind artistry that transcends musical genres and generational, cultural and geographical boundaries.
Long before the category now known as “world music” was named, Santana's ever-evolving sound was always ahead of its time in its universal appeal, and today registers as ideally in sync with the 21st century’s pan-cultural landscape. And, with a dedication to humanitarian outreach and social activism that parallels his lifelong relationship with music, Carlos Santana is as much an exemplary world citizen as a global music icon.
Santana's star arrived in the era-defining late 1960s San Francisco Bay Area music scene with historic shows at the Fillmore and other storied venues. The group emerged onto the global stage with an epic set at the Woodstock festival in 1969, the same year that its self-titled debut LP Santana came out. Introducing Santana's first Top 10 hit, “Evil Ways,” the disc stayed on Billboard’s album chart for two years and was soon followed by two more classics — and Billboard #1 albums — Abraxas and Santana III.
Ever since, for more than forty years and almost as many albums later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won 10 GRAMMY® Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project, 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”) as well as three Latin GRAMMY’s. In 1998, the group was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose website notes, “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.”
Among many other honors, Carlos Santana received Billboard Latin Music Awards’ 2009 Lifetime Achievement honor, and, he was bestowed Billboard’s Century Award in 1996. On December 8, 2013 he was the recipient of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Award. Rolling Stone has also named him #15 on the magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” noting that “Santana's crystalline tone and clean arcing sustain make him the rare instrumentalist who can be identified in just one note.” And, with the 2014 release of Corazón, Santana surpassed the Rolling Stones and, along with Barbara Streisand, is one of only two music acts in Billboard history to score at least one Top Ten album for six consecutive decades from the 1960s on.
Released as a single in late 1969, "Evil Ways" became Santana's first top 40 and top 10 hit in the U.S., peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Gregg Rolie performs the lead vocals and plays a Hammond organ solo in the middle section. The double-time coda includes a guitar solo performed by Carlos Santana.
"Evil Ways" is about a girl who is spiteful: "You've got to change your evil ways, baby/Before I stop lovin' you." She neglects her boyfriend by spending time with her friends instead of him. "You hang around, baby/with Jean and Joan and-a who-knows-who."
Some radio stations play edited versions of the song, cutting portions of the introduction, the organ instrumental in the middle, and the guitar improvisation in the coda.