Santana Bassist David Brown

Santana Bassist David Brown

Santana Bassist David Brown

Remembering and appreciating
February 15, 1947 – September 4, 2000
Bassist for Santana band: 1967 – 71 and 1974 – 76

Santana Bassist David Brown

Santana Bassist David Brown

Daly City, California

David grew up in Daly City, California.

According to a Ben Fong-Torres piece in Rolling Stone magazine from December 7, 1972,  David Brown, who’d gone to public and private school in San Francisco and played bass at night with Latin jazz bands and at clubs behind touring groups like the Four Tops, was walking up Grant Ave., in North Beach, when he heard some music from a small club. He stepped in, sat in, and was approached by Stan Marcum, who would become Santana’s manager. 

From that same article, David Brown is quoted that early in the band’s development they found that “We didn’t like the music too repetitious, the way Butterfield or other blues bands were playing…so we got into improvisation and we’d find the drums in there more of the time. Eventually, we just sat back and said let them do their thing.


Brown played with  Santana at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969 and on several other dates and albums.

While most of us listen enthralled to Carlos Santana’s lead guitar on Soul Sacrifice (and deservedly so), for David Brown’s birthday celebration, let’s listen to the bass. Pretty good!

Though best known as part of Santana, David Brown also played in Boz Scaggs band on three of Scaggs’s albums: Moments, Boz Scaggs and Band, and My Time.

Here is his credit listing from

David Brown

Santana Bassist David Brown

In 1998, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Santana. All the members of the band speak, except Brown.

David Brown died in 2000 due to liver and kidney failure. Be sure to read the several comments below, especially  Beachdog67’s. A wonderful and personal memory.

Santana Bassist David Brown

28 thoughts on “Santana Bassist David Brown”

  1. I was the guy who introduced Santan to Bill Graham at the Fillmore West where I worked back in 1968. Bill asked me to bring the band to his office and he took Santan into his office for almost 2 hours and told me to take the rest of the band out and he said he wanted to have a talk with Carlos and that was when I and Dave Brown became good friends. When Bill came out he called us all over and he told them that he has just become their promoter. I have some great stories and I love Bass Guitar.

    1. Ok, let’s here some of them. Especially some stories about Dave. Since he’s no longer here to speak for himself .

    2. Would love to hear them! Listening to and watching Santana back in the day was extraordinary. What a band!!. Damn they were good!!?

  2. I am 55 years old. In 1971, when I was 7, David along with Mike C, Jose, Mike S and of course Gregg and Carlos implanted a musical memory on my mind that have inspired me to this day. David taught me to play bass through these recordings in the early 70’s. I continue to listen to recordings from them from this era and will until the day I die. I am so sad that David Brown is gone, I really would have liked to have met him and shared my appreciation of his talent with him.

  3. I was in a band in 1977, the bass player had a Fender bass he bought used in a music shop in Boston MA. years latter he went to a NAMM convention. He took the Fender bass with him to the show so he could bring it to the Fender booth to see if they could give him any history on it. They took it apart and recorded the numbers and told him they would look it up and get back to him. A couple or few weeks later he got a call from Fender, they told him the body of the guitar is the actual bass David Brown used on stage at woodstock, they also told him the neck was not original and had been replaced somewhere along it’s history after the Brown performance at woodstock Back in 77 he had no idea where the bass came from.

    1. I don’t know who you are, but I have David Browns Fender Precision Bass. You may have one of his too, I’m sure he had more than one. In San Francisco, the one he used when first joined Santana.

  4. Hi guys ——great comments on David (RIP) — the ONLY OG Santana member i never interviewed for my book VOICES OF LATIN ROCK—he was out there and non contactable—- love this info on his basses… Love peace and latin rock Jim

  5. I remember hanging out sometimes with David when we were young. Such a great guy and very talented. We kept in touch and much later I got the chance to meet Carlos and the other band members too. We had a little too much to drink one night and Iost my shoes somewhere. David gave me his and to this day I still wear them occasionally.

  6. I was “coming of age” in 1969, year before high school graduation and was totally wet-behind-the-ears when it came to being “with it.” I definitely wasn’t! Fortune smiled on me as I entered college in 1970 and had a great bunch of guys to mentor me in many aspects of the entry into adulthood. Secondary to my college education was my social education, which most definitely included MUSIC. After seeing the original “Woodstock” movie/documentary and getting totally immersed in rock ‘n’ roll as well as country/bluegrass and even classical music, my cultural awareness was at a peak. Even now, 51 years later, my attention is always drawn to “Woodstock” and its standout performance by Santana. So glad to hear some background on David Brown, as he caught my eye and imagination as being the epitome of a 1969 “outstanding example of a with-it citizen.” His attractiveness, dress, mannerisms and membership in a heritage hippie-time band put him on a pedestal for me. He looks so “far out” and “cool” in the videos on YouTube; and with some backstory he’s even more important in my lifebook.

  7. I remember playing basketball with Dave at Columbus Schoolyard in San Francisco’s Sunset District. He’d pull up in his blue Corvette and play some 2 on 2. What a friendly guy. Great memories!!!

  8. I met Dave at Delancy Street, found him to be very humble. On Saturday nights we had dance’s and sometimes he would play WOW UNREAL! Will miss him

  9. I only read about this now, hadn’t known he passed away. So sad! He was such a nice guy! He went to my school for a while and I had a crush on him. I couldn’t find any mention anywhere that he went to Bakboa, where I met him.

  10. This is the first I heard of him passing away. So sad! I don’t keep up with rock ‘n’ roll artists. However I happened to mention his name to someone else today and so I thought I’d look it up. He went to my high school for a while and I had a crush on him. I couldn’t find anywhere that it mentioned he attended Balboa high school, where I went.

  11. In 1969 – 70 I worked for Chet Helms at the Family Dog on the Great Highway in San Francisco.
    Often my duties included “working the door.” Chet had a famously liberal “guest list” policy (for reasons not relevant here) and part of the door gig involved making quick decisions about “who gets in” without a ticket. Many local (and touring) musicians would stop by from time to time to catch someone’s set, socialize in the band room, or perhaps sit in.
    David was a regular. Any time Santana was in town and not on stage somewhere, you could count on him turning up. Occasionally carrying his bass case, more often not. Always polite, quiet, even “humble.” You never got a “don’t you know who I am” attitude from him. Just a hope that he could get in to hear the music. And of course, he was an automatic “yes.”
    And Dave was not there to party, or try to pick up groupies, or any such. It was for the music.
    If I had business at the stage, and David was in the house, I would inevitably find him either in the wings, behind the back line, or down in front. Completely locked on the band, especially the rhythm section. Watching, nodding his head in time, soaking it all it.
    My sense of the man was that he absolutely loved the music, and was always thirsty to learn more.

    1. I left this tab open in my browser the other day, thinking I might circle back later to pick up my comment, perhaps try to expand on it for a short entry on my blog.
      Imagine my surprise tonight when I returned to discover Jim had edited his post to call out my comment (I am ‘AKA beachdog67’). I am honored, sir.
      I was a green kid at the time, with a vague idea of how lucky I was to be doing the work I was, in the time and place it was happening. Now that I’m an old man whose run here is winding down, it is much clearer to me, with the perspective and context of a lifetime, it is undeniable just how privileged I have been to have been present for and in a small way supportive of so many special moments and towering generational talents.
      And every now and then something like Jim’s post here will shake loose on of those memories. Gods how I do cherish them now.
      Thank you.

      1. Cool story Beachdog and fascinating glimpse into Dave Brown. Carlos in his autobiography mentions Dave’s humility and how down to earth and grounded he was. Just to clarify, what you describe here was Dave before he officially joined Santana and he was soaking them up as a fan, am I correct? Thank you.

    2. i hope you write a book ( or get together with others who were there in those days and write a book)about those chet helms family dog on the great highway experiences. I’d love to read that book.

  12. I play guitar but one of the fist songs that I learnt to play was the bass on BMW. But I got hooked on Mr Browns iconic bass line which I hold alongside other milestone bass lines including Billy Jean. I realize that there have been many technically superior bassists that have played in Santana since starting with Doug Rauch, David Margen and Benny and a few more Bass “monsters”. But listening to David, he understood “space” in music very well, like no other and he set the groove not to mention his larger than life stage presence. I like to think he was the “Ringo Starr” in the Santana band, but on bass. IMHO no way would the original Santana band would have reached the heights they did without him.

  13. Can anyone confirm that he’s the bass player on the album tho at is now title “Duane and Gregg Allman”?

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