Santana helped me appreciate guitar-playing greats like Jimi Hendrix, and the Bay Area funk of Tower of Power. Adventurous and inspired by the music, I began to try out other bands with the Latin Rock sound, guys who had their start with Santana Band before venturing out and forming their own groups. El Chicano, with their cover of "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Viva Tirado" (source material for the Kid Frost Brown Pride anthem "La Raza"), or Malo, famous for their songs "Suavecito" and "Café" led me to Latin soul and boogaloo; it was just a matter of time until I learned about salsa maestros like Eddie Palmieri.

I wish I could still listen to those old LPs, tucked away collecting dust. But this is not an exercise in name-dropping or nostalgia: Santana's unique fusion of Afro-Latino Chicano rock spoke to me at a time when his songs were the only



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Spanish I heard on pop radio stations. Is it fair to talk about an artist's early work when he has had a musical career spanning several decades? Somewhere along the way, however, the soul turned saccharine, disco replaced funk; my record player broke and I lost touch with my old friend.

I didn't like Supernatural, and I haven't listened to Shamanó yet. But during an important part of my life, each new Santana album meant something magical to me. I hope the it's still there next time I hear him. Otherwise, I might just have to pick up my magic sticks. •

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