The Eternal #2: He Doesn’t Exist

With Him Absent, virtuoso guitarist Carlos Santana, who turns 75 this week, turned a sixties song into a evocative Latin rock classic that nearly hit number 1.

Number 2 hits come in all shapes and sizes. Some are now almost forgotten, others have achieved all-time status, despite not being able to reach the coveted number 1 position in the Dutch Top 40.

Last Wednesday, July 20, legendary Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana celebrated his 75th birthday. This Latin rocker is known for his talent for improvisation, great live performances, and his own recognizable guitar sound. Once you hear even one string being hit by him, you know: it’s Carlos Santana. His breakthrough came in 1969 at the Woodstock festival, when he had yet to release a record. He was listed 16 times in the Dutch Top 40, of which 3 times as a solo artist. He scored hits with Willie Nelson and John Lee Hooker, as well as Shakira and Michelle Branch. A ’60s song he gave in his own Santana voice became one of his biggest hits: He is not here.

In October 1977, Santana released a double album entitled Moonflower. Live recordings were recorded during the 1976 tour for the album Amigos. The album’s lead single is a cover version of a song by The Zombies: She’s Not There. The Zombies recorded this song in one take after winning their university talent show: the Herts Beat competition. Keyboardist Rod Argent wrote the song. It tells the story of a seductive woman who is not tied to one man. The Zombies, with Colin Blunstone as lead vocalist, almost became a number 1 hit in America in December 1964. At the time, She’s Not There’s main instrument was the electric piano, which was very unusual at the time. The song was rated on the British TV show Juke Box Jury, where a panel of music authorities judges newly released songs. In the week that She’s Not There was judged, George Harrison was on the panel.

She’s Not There got the voice of the original Santana in Moonflower. In their whipping version there is plenty of room for percussion and vocals provided by Greg Walker. The single entered Tipparade in December 1977, only to enter the Dutch Top 40 three weeks later. On March 4, 1978, She’s Not There rose to second place, ahead of only Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley & The St. Thomas Moore School Choir with If I Had Words. Moonflower’s album also reached second place on the Albums chart due to the success of the single. Here too Santana was thwarted by a Dutch artist, namely Tol Hansse with his album Moet Niet Zeuren. She’s Not There was also another hit in America. Santana took it to number 27 on Billboard’s Top 100. In the UK, She’s Not There is only one place above The Zombies’ original: number 11.

He’s Not There by Santana became a great classic and can still be found on various lists of all time. Another studio song released as a single from the self-written album Moonflower: I’ll Be Waiting almost reached the top 10. Live instrumental songs Europe (Earth Crying Heaven’s Smile)with style Samba Pa Ti, stuck at the Tipparade.

Carlos Santana experienced a major revival when his 1999 album Supernatural was released. He attributed his guitar playing to popular young singers such as Rob Thomas, Everlast and Dave Matthews. As a musician, he became relevant to a new generation. The album was a big winner at the 2000 Grammy Awards. Supernatural contains no less than two US number 1 hits: smooth and Mary Mary. The last song became the second number 2 hit in our country and the most successful Santana hit in the Dutch Top 40. Supernatural is the only Santana album to reach number 1 on the Dutch albums list.

Last year Carlos Santana released his 26th studio album, Blessings And Miracles, which he describes as mystical healing music to heal a world of fear and infected darkness. On this album Rob Thomas (singer of Smooth) also participated, but also names like Steve Winwood and Chris Stapleton. The album also includes a cover version of Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

His most loyal fans will call Samba Pa Ti the crowning glory of his work, the youngest oath of Maria Maria. Guitarist for all ages. We wish him many more years of healthy music.

He Was Not There For two weeks from March 4, 1978 at number 2 behind If I Had Words by Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley with the St. Thomas Moore.

Winton Jensen

"Falls down a lot. General tv buff. Incurable zombie fan. Subtly charming problem solver. Amateur explorer."

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