Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello

born November 18, 1947

Happy birthday

From a YouTube video

Country Joe McDonald had just finished his 9-song solo set at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Few remember the first 8 songs, but any Woodstock fan remembers the last: Fish Cheer > I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag.

Quite an experience to shout out FUCK four times along with 400,000 other people.

Joe over, the people sitting in front of me on that famous field turned and asked if I’d ever heard of the next band that Chip Monck had just introduced? I said no.

Neither had 399,000 others, but when Santana finished “Soul Sacrifice” they knew.

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello

Human earthquake

This white suburban middle class kid had never heard such rock and roll. The guitar playing was amazing, but it was more than that. The beat pounded, but it was more than that, too.

The combined percussion of three players: that was it! That whole combination of voluminous electricity and three heaving beating hearts

No wonder 400,000 people stood, cheered, shouted, stomped, called, whistled, and applauded to create a human earthquake.

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello
Woodstock ovation after Soul Sacrifice
Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello
The other side of that earthquake.


Mike Carabello was 21 at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair when he played with Santana that sunny Saturday afternoon. A bit younger than most performers, but still older than a few.

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello


Mike Carabello grew up in San Francisco hearing lots of music in his grandparents’s home. They had moved to California from Puerto Rico.

On weekends his father took him fishing to San Francisco’s Municipal Pier in Aquatic Park, but more than fish, Carabello caught percussion.

“I’d see these beatniks playing bongos and congas there.”

On one weekend a different group was there and they were playing Afro-Cuban drumming. Carabello found himself “fishing” there more and more.

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello

Mike Carabello

In 1966, Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie formed the Santana Blues Band with Tim Frazer on guitar, Gus Rodrigues on bass, Rod Harper on drums and Michael Carabello on congas. Carabello provided the third element in what became simply Santana.

Carabello brought his Puerto Rican sensibility to the band helping it create the sound that astounded so many at Woodstock.

Though Santana is the band Carabello is most associated with in its various incarnations, he has played with and for many others including Elvin Bishop, Boz Scaggs, Buddy Miles, Harvey Mandel, Neal Schon, and the Steve Miller Band.

Here is AllMusic’s credit list.

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello

Santana IV

In April 2016 Santana released its twenty-third studio album: Santana IV. Santana IV because it was the fourth album released by the band consisting primarily of its original members.

No one does it [this kind of music] better” according to Felix Contreras in an NPR review. “Drummer Michael Shrieve and conguero Michael Carabello lay a familiar rhythmic foundation that allows guitarists Carlos Santana and Neal Schon to inspire one another in solos that are as melodic as they are rhythmic.”

As the Dead sang, the music never stopped.

Many happy returns Michael Carabello.

Santana Percussionist Mike Carabello
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LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

November 12, 1966

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Pandora’s Box

Jimmy O’Neill hosted the ABC network show Shindig! The show was ABC’s attempt to jump on the British Invasion bandwagon after the ratings of its folk-oriented show Hootenanny fell.

O’Neill also ran a nightclub called Pandora’s Box on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Though it was 1966, a year after the tipping point that changed America’s teenage musical landscape, the club mainly drew a crowd of mostly clean-cut teenagers and twenty-somethings guys wearing pullover sweaters and girls miniskirts.

It and other clubs’ popularity with young people walking around and driving nearby caused congestion that local residents and business owners complained about and asked the city government to do something.

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966


Los Angeles passed a 10 PM curfew law targeting teenagers.

On November 12 some young people passed out fliers along the Strip announcing a demonstration there to protest the curfew.

By most accounts, about 1000 people turned out including a few young celebraties such as Sonny and Cher (whose presence got them kicked out of the Rose Bowl Parade), Jack Nicholson, and  Peter Fonda (who was arrested but released after he said he was simply filming the demonstration).

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Sunset Strip

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

The event began peacefully, but eventually pushing, shoving, and shouting led to police ordering all to leave.

Many didn’t and some demonstrators broke store windows.

Demonstrations continued on and off over the next weeks, but the City of Los Angeles won. It condemned Pandora’s Box, claiming that street realignment required its destruction.

On Aug. 3, 1967, a wrecking ball tore it down.

No sign of the triangle occupied by Pandora’s remains today; the street rerouting eliminated it.

Fortunately for artists, such popular disruption can lead to inspiration. Stephen Stills said that he wrote “For What It’s Worth” in 15 minutes. Though the song today is associated with protesting the Vietnam War, it’s source was the LA Sunset Strip Riots.

LA Sunset Strip Riots 1966

Other songs

Others also wrote songs about the protests: Frank Zappa, the Monkees, and The Standells.

    • For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield (1967) Song:

  • Plastic People” by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention  (1967)

  • Daily Nightly” by The Monkees (1967)

Riot on Sunset Strip” by The Standells (1967)

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John Yoko Two Virgins

John Yoko Two Virgins

Released November 11, 1968

John Yoko Two Virgins

Two Virgins

Whenever musicians release a record album, whatever the format, it is the album’s content that critics use to determine their review. Vinyl record collectors bemoan the passing of the Vinyl Age both because they feel the sound quality digital formats fall below that of vinyl and album art needs more than the 5″ x 5″ that a CD allows or no album art at all when streaming.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Not the Beatles

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins album  was the exception. Most fans found the recording unlistenable, but had even more to say about the cover art: a black and white photo of John and Yoko standing casually naked against a plain white background.

John Yoko Two Virgins

John and Yoko had recorded the album on May 19, 1968 at Kenwood, Lennon’s former home in Weybridge. It featured the following tracks: Two Virgins No. 1; Together; Two Virgins (numbers 2-6); Two Virgins; Hushabye Hushabye; Two Virgins (numbers 7-10).

John Yoko Two Virgins

Album cover controversy

Capitol Records refused to release it not because of the avant garde sound, but the company feared negative reaction to the cover.

Tetragrammaton released Two Virgins in a brown paper sleeve on November 11, 1968.  The sleeve had a small opening through which Lennon and Ono’s faces peeked.

Quantities of the album were seized in several US jurisdictions, including 30,000 copies in New Jersey. Nonetheless, it managed to reach number 124 on the US charts.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Lennon’s views

Lennon described the picture of Ono and him as “two slightly overweight ex-junkies.” He spoke of the album’s recording in Jann S Wenner’s Rolling Stone magazine 1970 interview, Lennon Remembers:

When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her [Ono] over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn  [Cynthia Lennon} was away, and I thought, ‘Well, now’s the time if I’m going to get to know her any more.’ She came to the house and I didn’t know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I’d made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, ‘Well, let’s make one ourselves,’ so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.

They took the self-portrait later in the year at Ringo Starr’s basement apartment in London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living. In the notes that came with the Anthology collection, Lennon said:

We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.

What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren’t that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Yoko vs Beatle fans

It is a shibboleth among many Beatle fans to excoriate Yoko Ono as the cause of the Beatles demise. In my view, John was a powder keg looking for a liaght. Yoko was that spark.

If it wasn’t Yoko, it would have been someone else. Yoko brought forth even more artistic freedom than Bob Dylan had three years earlier.

Here is side one of Two Virgins. I suppose many of you are familiar with the first minute because that’s all you could get through the first (and last) time you listened.

It certainly is a long way from “Love Me Do” to “Two Virgins.” Those of us who stuck it out for at least the first side may have kept waiting for the song to start. Compared to side 1, the white album’s “Number 9” seems pop.

And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Stretch the boundaries of familiarity so that what is unapproachable today becomes familiar tomorrow…or next year.

John Yoko Two Virgins
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