Yes, the rumors are true. All signs are pointing to a reunion of the original Santana band and an album looks imminent. Carlos recently told music Vintage Vinyl News: “So far we have invited the original members like Gregg Rolie from the first three albums, It will be like Santana IV because we stopped at ‘Santana III’”
Carlos continued that the album will have the African feel of the first three Santana records. “We have been checking out a lot of African music, African patterns,” he says. “Each artist has his own thing that he listens to. Led Zeppelin listened to Otis Rush. Cream listened to Freddie King and Albert King. We all had someone that we listened to. It was a beautiful common ground for Santana to play African music”.
Gregg Rolie added to a CBS Website: “It’s just a matter of putting it together and going and doing it. We’ve talked about it a number of times, but it never comes to fruition. I would do it, I think it’s a great idea, people would love it. It could be great!”
Gregg of course was the original lead vocalist for the group. The keyboard player’s voice is quite memorable on tracks such as “Evil Ways,” ” “Black Magic Woman,” “Oye Como Va” and “No One To Depend On.”
The original band was Carlos Santana (guitar), Gregg Rolie (keys), Jose “Chepito” Areas (timbales), Michael Carabello (percussion), Michael Shrieve (drums) and Dave Brown (bass). Dave Brown passed away in 2000. That lineup played on the first two albums Santana and Abraxas. They are the members that were included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors. Neal Schon joined the band as second guitarist for the next album Santana III. That album is for the most part considered the end of the “original era.”
Brown and Carabello would leave before the next album Caravanserai while Rolie and Schon would leave after. Rolie would comment recently: “Playing the stuff that was on Caravanserai, I liked the exploration of it, but I didn’t want to make it the mainstay, and that’s what happened. The songs went away. I thought it was a mistake; I didn’t want to do it. It’s not my cup of tea. It was time to go.”
The new album won’t be until 2014 with recording to begin after Carlos finishes his current tour.
UPADATE: Carlos has added another comment. This is regarding Neal Schon being part of the process. “As well as Neal we have the two Mikes, Mike Carabello and Michael Shrieve. I am pretty sure Greg [Rolie]’s going to do it. So that is pretty much everyones,” said Carlos Santana. Note that Jose “Chepito” Areas was not mentioned this time.
Here is a full-length Santana concert from 1970.
Here’s some live Santana with Neal Schon.