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How Fleetwood Mac inspired one of Santana's greatest hits


Usually, when we say the word “inspired”, a hefty pinch of salt is added to the recipe. Inspiration can be the smallest of things, after all; the way someone played a particular note or inflexion of vocal distortion. However, the word can also mean directly influenced by or even completely lifted from another track. For Santana’s iconic hit ‘Black Magic Woman’, a song most would describe as an original of Carlos Santana and his band, we mean the latter.

Though many people do not know this, the song was a cover of a 1968 track from Fleetwood Mac. The original song, titled ‘I Loved Another Woman’, was written by guitar hero and underrated rock genius Peter Green, who penned the music for their first album. It was a track Mick Fleetwood later described as “Three minutes of sustain/reverb guitar with two exquisite solos from Peter.” Of course, under the tutelage of Santana, the track would morph into something otherworldly.

Like many rockers in the sixties, for Carlos Santana, there were few bands better than Fleetwood Mac. The group were far away from the soft-rock joy of the seventies, something heightened by the inclusion of Americans Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and were, at this time, a pure blues band. Led by Peter Green with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, the band crafted a searing reputation as some of the finest musicians around.

“I used to go to see the original Fleetwood Mac, and they used to kill me, just knock me out,” Carlos Santana said in the book The Guitar Greats. “To me, they were the best blues band.” With this endorsement, it is easy to see why Santana would lean towards the work of Green and his band when searching for a new song for the band’s second album Abraxas.

Of course, the group would add their textures to the track, morphing it from a straight blues number into something with Latin flair and a groove that couldn’t be ignored. Sung by Gregg Rolie, the song is given an extra kick when ‘Gypsy Queen’, the near-two-minute instrumental at the end of the single, breathes life into the song’s final moments.

The cover worked out to be both good and bad for Green. Following his departure from Fleetwood Mac, he would give away all his fortune and find himself near poverty by the end of the seventies, using his royalty cheques from such songs to keep himself afloat. However, according to Christine McVie, the song was also an instigator for his downfall as it led him to meet many people who were into black magic. In an interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, McVie suggested these people turned him on to acid and set the wheels for his turmoil in motion.

‘Black Magic Woman’ is a song that has gone on to typify the career of Santana, yet few people know of the man and the band behind the original. Listen to both songs below.