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Watch Santana play 'Black Magic Woman' in 1970


The link between Fleetwood Mac and Santana is stronger than it might seem. Both bands were forged in the late 1960s, fronted by guitar gods who combined blues-based runs with their unique backgrounds, and both went through a number of personnel changes, making all members except the namesakes expendable. Both had pop transformations, both are inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and both continue to tour with a lifetime of classic catalogues. 

But clearly, there is a more direct link between the two groups: ‘Black Magic Woman’. Originally appearing as a single for the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac in 1968, the Mac’s original version scraped the bottom of the top 40 in the UK and didn’t even chart in the US. But when Fleetwood Mac played the song during an appearance at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Carlos Santana was in the audience and became transfixed with the song.

While bringing in his signature Latin rock flavour, Santana also decided to make the song a medley, preceded by the Gábor Szabó song ‘Gypsy Queen’. The result was a hypnotic groove that immediately belonged to Santana and their bewitching blend of rock, samba, and blues. For generations afterwards, it came as a surprise for many to see Peter Green’s name on the songwriting credits, and Fleetwood Mac’s version became a footnote in the larger success of ‘Black Magic Woman’.

That success was huge: Santana’s version of the track landed at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the band their biggest chart hit during their original incarnation’s run. It would take nearly 30 years for the band to land in the top ten again, thanks to their massive collaboration with Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas, ‘Smooth’.

Even as Santana was dazzling audiences with their version ‘Black Magic Woman’, Fleetwood Mac continued to play the track. Danny Kirwan took on the lead vocal after Peter Green departed, and the song ebbed and flowed between the bluesy feel of the original, the more Latin style of Santana’s cover, and a more pronounced rock feel that Kirwan favoured. For legions of fans, even some diehards, the sight of Fleetwood Mac playing ‘Black Magic Woman’ was strange. Few knew that it was actually there’s to begin with.

Check out Santana’s legendary live performance of ‘Black Magic Woman’ from 1970 down below.