1967–1972: Formation and peak years
The band was formed in 1966 in San Francisco as the Santana Blues Band with the help of guitarist Tom Fraser. The first established members were Carlos Santana (lead guitar), Marcus Malone (percussion), Rod Harper (drums), Sergio “Gus” Rodriguez (bass guitar) and Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, Hammond organ B3). The group’s first audition with this line up was at the Avalon Ballroom in the late summer of 1967. After the audition, Chet Helms (the promoter of the event), in concert with the Family Dog, told the band that they would never make it in the San Francisco Music Scene playing Latin fusion and suggested Carlos keep his day job washing dishes at Tick Tock’s Drive-In on 3rd Street. By the time Santana began work on its debut album Santana, Malone had already left the band as he had been convicted of manslaughter and had started serving his sentence in Marin County‘s San Quentin State Prison.
Ahead of Woodstock, Bill Graham was asked to help with logistics and planning. Graham agreed to lend his help only if a new band he was championing, an unknown band called Santana, was added to the bill. Santana was announced as one of the performers at the Woodstock Festival. The band started recording their 1969 debut album Santana in May 1969 and finished it in a month. Wiki