After organizers had drafted Country Joe McDonald to do a solo performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that fair Saturday afternoon, August 16, 1969, the young couple pictured above turned around and offered friend Tony and me a toke. Straight as an arrow at the time, we politely refused. They were from San Francisco and asked us, "Have you ever heard of ..." and gave the name of the next act. We said we hadn't. Neither had most of the others sitting in that big grassy bowl.
After that next band finished "Soul Sacrifice" and 400,000 people stood, applauded, stamped, hooted, shouted, yelled, and generally ululated, we all knew Santana and would never forget that moment. I grabbed my borrowed 35 mm camera and shot a picture of that scene. Looking at it today, the echos cannot be heard, the vibrations felt. I know though.
My guess is that most of those many white kids getting sunburned have not forgotten that moment either. The mixture of Carlos Santana's electric guitar, Gregg Rolie's searing organ, David Brown's thumping bass, and ALL that percussion chugging along. Jose "Chepito" Areas's timbales were amongst all that chugging percussion. He was an original member of Santana and played with them while Carlos was with the band and without and reunited.
Jose “Chepito” Areas
Areas released a solo album, "Jose Chepito Areas" in 1974. Listen and I dare you not to start moving in sync. Here's "Gurafeo" from that album.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Areas along with his other band mates from the original line up were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He was not present.
Before Carlos Santana and his band performed at Woodstock Music and Art Fair on that sunny Saturday 16 August 1969, a few other things happened:
Friend Tony T and I had walked 9 miles from where we'd left his car on the side of the road. We didn't know we'd walked 9 miles--only decades later when I clocked it with a car that could drive down Rt 17B without stopping, up Hurd Road without another car on the road, and to the Field.
We put our sleeping bags down to claim our spot, sat down, and waited. Quill opened that day. A Boston band hired by Woodstock Ventures to play free locally to residents of Bethel. Hopefully helping soothe the anger of locals who weren't too enthused about the upcoming festival. Few of us had heard of Quill. Few know them today despite their Woodstock appearance. No album appearance nor movie appearance either.
In an attempt to keep things moving, Michael Lang drafted Country Joe McDonald to play and fill in while the crew set up next band's equipment. Joe said he had no guitar. Someone found one for him. Joe said the guitar had no strap. Someone found a piece of rope. Gimme' an F!
Big Grassy Bowl
When Max Yasgur showed Michael Lang his field, Michael realized he'd found exactly what he was looking for both literally and figuratively: a big grassy bowl. After Country Joe finished his surprise and historic set, the guy sitting in front of us offered Tony and me a toke. We straight suburban white Catholic-educated rising college sophomores (literally and figuratively redux) demurred politely. He then asked us if we'd heard of the next band just announced? We said we hadn't. He said we'd really like them.
The next band was Santana and we sophomoric white kids were blown away. Never had we heard such music filled with percussion and an electric lead guitar that felt like Carlos Santana was playing personally to each of our 400,000 friends.
Carlos Santana entered the ethos of myth that afternoon. And while his band mates went in different directions after he had, too, he has remained a beacon of musical nourishment for nearly 50 years.
Happy birthday Carlos!
We Boomers owe more than that big grassy bowl to Carlos. Thank you from all of us. I hope that thunderous standing ovation in 1969 meant as much to you as its continued memory means to us today.
SantanaWoodstock Music and Art FairRock and Roll Hall of FameHappy birthday!
When guests first enter first part of the Main Gallery in the museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts they are surrounded by some of the 400,000 people who attended that historic event. Above them is a movie showing with commentary pieces of the festival. Michael Shrieve is shown during his amazing drum solo with Santana. Country Joe McDonald exclaims, "17!" referring to Shrieve's age. On Saturday 16 August 1969, Michael Shrieve was young, but not that young. Shrieve was born on July 6, 1949. He had just turned 20. We can forgive McDonald. It was a long weekend. Interestingly, even Shrieve's internet site gets it wrong. It states, " As the original drummer for Santana, Michael – at age nineteen – was the youngest performer at Woodstock." Wrong twice as Henry Gross, born on April 4, 1951 and 18 was the youngest performer. Ah well. Such is the misty makings of history.
During a performance at the Fillmore Auditorium, Shrieve came to the attention of Santana's manager. A short time later Shrieve joined the band and became a mainstay. His jazz background helped develop a sound already influenced by the band Latin percussion component. The aforementioned drum solo at Woodstock, it's inclusion on the album as well as the movie put Michael Shrieve forever into the picture of 1960's music.
Shrieve remained with the Santana band until 1974, but has continued to be active since. He has released several of his own albums and collaborated with or sat in with dozens of other albums. He occasionally rejoined the Santana band which continued to undergo various personnel changes throughout the years. In 1998, the he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,