Carlos Santana's Musical Journey

Musician Carlos Santana performs onstage at the 2005 World Music Awards at the Kodak Theatre on August 31, 2005 in Hollywood, California. GETTY

(This program originally aired Oct. 30, 2005)Whenever Carlos Santana picks up a guitar you can be sure something magical is about to happen.

At age 59, after more than 40 years in the spotlight, Santana is a rarity: a rock 'n' roll legend, who may just now be approaching his peak, CBS Sunday Morning contributor Russ Mitchell reports.

Mitchell: It seems like you're having so much fun. I mean, when I see you on stage, how much fun are you having right now?

Santana: The fun comes from being grateful, 'cause if you're not grateful, you're not gonna feel joy. For me to be a person who grew up in the '60s and still be center stage, I always take a deep breath and say I'm really grateful. So I'm happy.

Perhaps nowhere is he happier than inside "The electric church," a retreat of sorts, on the grounds of his home in northern California.

Mitchell: Any idea how many cassettes, CDs you have in this room alone?

Santana: No. It's like asking me how many times I breathe in and out since I've been born.

Let's just say he's got thousands and thousands of hours of video and countless instruments as well. He calls it a church because he doesn't study music here. He worships it.

Santana: I look for grooves and melodies, the elements to conjuring a trance. I'm in the business of putting people in a trance. Take them outside their doldrums existence where they can also dream and aspire to touch their own light.

Santana is a bit cosmic about all this: music, he believes, allows people to touch their own light.

Santana: When you touch your own light you listen to the voice in your heart, the real you. There's layers like an artichoke of who you are, you're black or being American, being this or being that. But when you strip yourself of all that, you're just this shining, radiant light. One positive thought creates millions of positive vibrations. Those are the languages of light.

And from the beginning for Carlos, "the languages of light" meant music.

He was born in 1947 in western Mexico, where his father played violin in a popular mariachi band. As a child, Santana followed in his father's musical footsteps.

Mitchell: Do you recall how old you were when picked up first guitar?

Santana: It was like '58 or '59, probably about 12, 13 something like that.

For a while he played both instruments under somewhat unusual circumstances.

Santana: I used to work on Sunday. I mean Sunday mornings, I play the violin at church and then at night I'd go to work at these strip joints, which were sort of like Broadway in Tijuana.

Mitchell: That's quite a day. Church in the morning and strip club at night. That's a busy Sunday.

Santana: That's a busy Sunday, but it's very complete. It's the whole package, you know, the halo and the horns, you know. It's all one. It's all how you utilize it.
  • Sean Alfano

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