Latin Music USA


Hour 1: Bridges

Traces the rise of Latin Jazz and the explosion of the Mambo and the Cha Cha Cha as they sweep the US from East to West. Latin Music infiltrates R&B and Rock and Roll through the 1960s.

AIRED: October 13, 2009 | 0:54:47

("Oye Como Va" plays)

JIMMY SMITS: In the United States, this is Latin music.

♪ Para bailar La Bamba

♪ Para bailar La Bamba...

And this is Latin music.

♪ A ella le gusta la gasolina

♪ Da me más gasolina!

("Mambo Inn" playing)

This is Latin music.

♪ Whenever, wherever...

And this is Latin music.

♪ Ee Mama

♪ Ee Mama...


(vigorous salsa playing)

SMITS: Its roots are sometimes obvious...

♪ Por "ai" va la despedida...

...and sometimes not.

♪ Louie, Louie, no, no, no, no... ♪

It has accordions...

(playing "José Pérez León")

...and it doesn't.

♪ Ow! Rhythm is gonna get you

♪ Rhythm is gonna get you...

It's in Spanish...

♪ Que cante mi gente...

...except when it's not.

♪ Upside inside out, she's livin' la vida loca. ♪

It's a fusion with jazz...

♪ !¡Manteca! ♪

♪ !¡Manteca! ♪

...or reggae.

("Muevelo" playing)

♪ Muevelo, muevelo, que sabroso... ♪

New hybrids with country...

♪ I'll be there before the next teardrop falls. ♪

...or rock.

("Black Magic Woman" playing)

It's as diverse as the Latino experience.

♪ Hey!

As American as it gets.

Latin Music USA.

♪ Oye como va mi ritmo ♪

♪ Bueno pa gozar, mulata ♪

♪ Oye como va mi ritmo ♪

♪ Bueno pa gozar, mulata ♪

♪ Oye como va mi ritmo ♪

♪ Bueno pa gozar, mulata. ♪

(song continues)

(song continues)

(song ends, applause)

Funding for Latin Music USA is provided

CARLOS SANTANA: All the freeways were blocked,

like a science fiction movie.

The people just abandoned their cars on the freeway.


You know, half a million or more strong.

All I could see was an ocean of flesh and hair and teeth.

The biggest door I ever walked through.

JIMMY SMITS: On August 16, 1969,

a little-known band from San Francisco,

Santana, performed at Woodstock.

It became one of the most successful international debuts

in popular music history.

SANTANA: And when I saw the movie,

I remembered that I was under the influence of LSD.

You know, and I... then it all came back to me, like,

"Damn! Why did I take LSD?"

SMITS: Santana's music was a fusion of rock, blues

and Afro-Cuban percussion-- a fresh hybrid,

but far from the first.

In fact, the story of how Santana's sound came to be

stretches back decades,

to before these musicians

and their audience were born.

(music stops)

(clarinet playing opening to "Rhapsody in Blue")

In 1930, a 19-year-old Cuban named Mario Bauzá

arrived in New York.

A classically trained clarinetist,

he had visited the city four years earlier

and fallen in love with jazz.

Now he was back,

intent on making it in the burgeoning Big Band scene.

In Cuba, prejudice against his dark skin had held him back.

New York had race barriers as well.

But in Havana, there was no Harlem.

(swing playing)

♪ Unless you know rhythm, unless you like music ♪

♪ Unless you keep dancing, you can't live in Harlem. ♪

(music continues)

CHRIS WASHBURNE: In his own words,

well, he found that it was a place

where he could walk down the street

and not experience the same kind of racism

that he was experiencing in Havana at the time;

that he could feel free as a black man

walking down the street

and not feel that oppression in the same way.

(song ends)

"Stompin' at the Savoy."

(bluesy rhythm playing)

SMITS: Just a few years later, after a switch to trumpet,

Bauzá was playing at the Savoy Ballroom

for Harlem's King of Swing, Chick Webb.

Bauzá became the orchestra's musical director

and lead trumpet player.

Taken with Bauzá's musicianship,

Webb had personally rehearsed him

in what he called the vocabulary of jazz,

helping him adapt to the feel of swing.

RAY SANTOS: Getting more of da-ba-do,

ba-da, ba-do, ba-da, ba-do, ba-da,

ba-do, ba-da.

Whereas Latin is... it tends to be

strictly bac-um, bac-um, bac-um,

bac-um, bac-um, bac-um, bac-um, bac-um.

SMITS: Even as Bauzá made inroads into American jazz,

Cuban music was entering the American mainstream.

In 1931, an orchestra from Havana released

"El Manisero"-- "The Peanut Vendor."

It became a surprise smash hit.

♪ Caserita no te acuestes a dormir ♪

♪ Sin comerte un cucurucho de maní... ♪

(song continues)

SMITS: The million-seller launched

the rumba dance craze of the '30s,

and so-called "Latin" bands

became a standard ballroom attraction.

MAN: ♪ Cuando la calle sola esta...

SMITS: The stage was set for a musical revolution

led by Mario Bauzá.

It started with an insult.

Mario was insulted by some comments

by a musician in the Cab Calloway orchestra

when he played him some of the music of Cuba.

He said, "Hey, that sounds like hillbilly music, country music."

He goes, "Yeah, it's the music of my country, Cuba.

"But one day there'll be a band, just like this band,

"The Cab Calloway Band, real classy, elegant,

with modern harmonies, etcetera."

He said, "It's going to have an Afro-Cuban rhythm section.

"And I'm going to tell you,

it's going to sound better than this band."

This is exactly what it is.

(upbeat jazz rhythm playing)

SMITS: Bauzá's first step was to recruit his brother-in-law,

bringing him up from Cuba.

To the world, he'd become known as Machito.

(Machito singing)

SANABRIA: Machito's real name

was Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo de Ayala.

His nickname when he was a kid was Macho.

And then the story goes that a promoter in New York City

told him, "That sounds, like, too harsh.

"Is there any way to make that a little bit softer?

Like how would you say 'Little Macho'?"

So he goes, "Oh, Machito."

So that's how basically he got his moniker.

(Machito singing)

He was the kind of man that was the salt of the earth,

really, the salt of the earth.

And what a pair of mara...

nobody could play maracas like him.

And the way he sang was just completely endearing.

(Machito singing)

SMITS: Bauzá's fusion of an African-American big band

with traditional Cuban rhythms was groundbreaking,

right down to its name. (song ends)

Just the fact that the name that they chose for that band

was Machito and his Afro Cubans says a lot.

It's the first time where we see this kind

of public acknowledgment through the naming of the band

of something that is African derived.

Nobody was acknowledging Africa.

All of a sudden this band comes out and right in your face

it says Machito and the Afro Cubans.

♪ Naguüe, nague, naguüe, nague ♪

♪ Naguüe, nague, naguüe ♪

SMITS: Bauzá and Machito had a strong base to work from.

Granted U.S. citizenship in 1917,

over 30,000 Puerto Ricans had migrated to New York,

many settling in East Harlem,

which came to be known as El Barrio, or Spanish Harlem.

MACHITO: ♪ Naguüe, nague, naguüe, nague ♪

♪ Naguüe, nague, naguüe, nague ♪

SMITS: The mix of jazz and traditional rhythms

spoke directly to this new generation of New York Latinos.

They provided both an audience and musicians for the band.

♪ Que yo tengo por aquí

♪ Ando en busca una chamaca

♪ Que yo tengo por aquí

FRANK COLON: I stood in front of that bandstand.

It changed my whole life.

It changed my whole life-- everything changed!

I changed!

You know, when I heard that band in person,

in the flesh,

and I heard those drums and going... and how they start,

and I was looking around, you know, I felt like

that feeling you get in your nose when you're gonna cry

or something, and you try to...

It just... it just destroyed me.

COLON: Hot damn!

And I'm looking around...

Ooh, man... and I look at the people

and the people were dancing and, "Vaya, vaya Papi!"

And I'm saying, "This is impossible,

this is impossible."

You know, man, it changed my whole life.

That was one of the experiences that stay with me

till I'm in the tomb.

♪ Naguüe, nague, naguüe ♪

♪ ¿Qué tú hace' por aquí? ♪

♪ ¿Qué tú hace' por aquí? ♪

SMITS: An immediate success in El Barrio,

Machito and his Afro Cubans became a bridge between worlds

when they also found success with white audiences

in midtown Manhattan,

becoming the house band at the La Conga Club for three years.

Though the Afro Cubans succeeded with varied audiences,

that didn't mean everyone heard the music the same way.

WASHBURNE: It's almost like a double performance,

performing a piece that was translating

to a general audience as a swinging, killing dance piece,

but at the same time, there would be messages,

coded messages for those people in the know.

MACHITO: ♪ Tanga! Boru boya!

WASHBURNE: "Boru boya"...

You know, it goes by so fast, that you hardly recognize it.

But anybody who was a practitioner of Santería

would look up 'cause it's a traditional greeting.

SMITS: During the 1940s,

the Afro Cubans developed what became a landmark composition

and the band's theme song, "Tanga."

There is a nice balance there.

It's what Mario Bauzá and Machito were really pushing for:

jazz improvisation over really, um, you know,

intense Afro-Cuban grooves.

And you get this wall of sound happening with the horns.

It's like a tidal wave of sound coming at you.

It just stays on one chord.


And it just gets more intense, and more intense,

and more intense, and more intense.

It was the harbinger of the experiments

that Miles Davis would eventually start doing

much, much later.

SMITS: With music like "Tanga,"

the Afro Cubans quickly drew the attention

of the most innovative jazz artists,

including an old friend and bandmate of Mario Bauzá's.

COLON: And who comes in at the very end?

Dizzy Gillespie.

The trumpets were here, sax over there, the rhythm...

he's sitting right there.

He wanted to hear that thing coming right through him.

And so Mario, seeing that Dizzy's there, he said,

"All right, let's take out the heavy stuff."

Diz looked around, told Mario, "Hey, baby, knock me out!

Play some more of that stuff."

And I know when Dizzy left that night,

man, he didn't know where to put his brains in.

(song continues)

SMITS: In the late 1940s,

a handful of Cuban conga players arrived in New York

and began transforming popular music almost immediately.

One was Candido Camero.

Along with his peers--

congueros like Mongo Santamaria and Armando Peraza--

Candido would introduce the U.S.

to an entirely new level of conga mastery.

The instrument itself would be at the heart of a new fusion

in jazz, created by one of the Afro Cubans' greatest fans,

Dizzy Gillespie.

(music stops)

As a founder of bebop,

Gillespie had already revolutionized jazz,

but he saw one aspect of it as stubbornly resistant to change.

WASHBURNE: In his autobiography he said, you know,

the rhythm of jazz was boring in the sense that it was

ding-dinga-ding, dinga-ding for the most part.

SMITS: With an upcoming concert

with his big band at Carnegie Hall late in 1947,

Gillespie asked Bauzá to suggest someone to play,

in Gillespie's words, "one of those tom-toms."

Bauzá introduced him to Chano Pozo,

who had recently arrived in New York from Cuba,

where he was a successful songwriter, showman,

and conga player.

He had risen out of one of the roughest tenements in Havana.

SANABRIA: Chano's a street dude, man.

He'll cut you, he'll bitchslap you.

Chano was so famous for getting into fights, etcetera.

He had, like, a bullet lodged near his spine;

they couldn't get the bullet out.

You got this guy who's like pure street,

but he's got all of this incredible folkloric knowledge

and mystical knowledge and rhythmic knowledge.

(conga playing)

SMITS: At Carnegie Hall, Chano Pozo performed in a two-part number

written to feature his playing, "Cubana Be, Cubana Bop."

(horns join conga)

Chano's appearance went over very big.

People went absolutely nuts.

So, the band that did the most way-out Afro-Cuban jazz

was Dizzy's!

(song continues)

SMITS: Afterward, Dizzy asked Chano to stay with the band.

Not everyone was pleased.

Most of the musicians in the band,

they were all African-American, did not want him in the band.

"Jungle music-- we're beyond that."

SMITS: Communication wasn't easy--

Chano didn't speak English,

no one in the band spoke Spanish.

But a bridge between cultures was found in music

when Chano approached Dizzy with a tune he'd made up, "Manteca."

He said, "Dizzy...

first the bajo"-- the bass.

He gave me the bass lick.

I wrote that down-- bi-di-bi-di-bi-bom-bim-bom.

And then he said, "After that goes, um, saxo"-- saxophone.

Bom-bim, bom-bim.

The trombone-- bom-pu-bibi-pi-bom.

And the trumpets-- aaahhhh!

And all these were going at the same time

and it sure sounded good to me.

SANDOVAL: "Manteca" is probably one of the...

the most, you know, distinctive, uh, tune.

Really it identified what is...

Afro-Cuban jazz all about.

SANABRIA: Dizzy wasn't the first one

to create what we call Afro-Cuban jazz, or Latin jazz.

That title goes to the Machito Afro Cubans.

But Dizzy was the first person to champion it

outside of the realm of... the close-knit society

of those musicians that were from the culture.

Unfortunately, one year later, somebody killed Chano

in a bar in Harlem.

But he left such a great impression on Dizzy.

Dizzy never stopped talk about Chano.

ALL: Un o, dos,

tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho...



SMITS: In the early 1950s,

the mambo burst onto the international stage

with hit records by Dámaso Pérez Prado,

a Cuban working in Mexico City.

Despite Pérez Prado's popularity,

he didn't invent the mambo.

Musicologists still debate who did.

♪ Ahhh...

SMITS: But the first piece to be called a mambo

was written in the late 1930s in Cuba,

by the pianist Orestes López

and his brother bassist, Israel López,

better known as Cachao.

They were searching for a way to liven up

a Cuban form of ballroom dancing called danzón.

Pum, pum-pum, pum, pum, pum, pum, pum, pum-pum-pum.

SMITS: The intriguing López mambo was picked up

by other Cuban composers and arrangers,

including one who traveled to New York

and worked with Mario Bauzá and Machito in the early 1940s.

COLON: I heard it from Mario, he said,

"Hey, mira tienen algo nuevo de Cuba y se llama mambo,

hay que tocarlo asi."

You know, that means,

"There's something new from Cuba, it's coming up,

"it's coming into New York, and you play it this way.

"They got a new dance for it, you know,

and there's saxes, you know?"

That's when you heard figures like, uh,

te-de-dim-dim, dum-dum, dum-dum, de-dim-dim...

They never had those figures before.

SMITS: So while most of the U.S. and the world

saw Pérez Prado as the King of the Mambo,

New York-- with its jazzier sounds

and decades-old Latin music scene--

had its own royalty, known as The Big Three.

Machito and his Afro Cubans were the elder statesmen;

the two other contenders had grown up in El Barrio.

Tito Rodríguez was born in Puerto Rico

and moved to New York as a young boy.

By the 1950s, the suave singer led his own band.

While his hot numbers burned,

Rodríguez was also known for his romantic boleros.

(Rodríguez singing "Ya Lo Puedes Decir")

LARRY HARLOW: Tito Rodríguez was a crooner.

He used to dance with the women...

take his microphone and just look into their eyes

and just sing these beautiful ballads,

and the girls would just melt on the floor.

("Ya Lo Puedes Decir" continues)

(song ends)

SMITS: But there was another Tito, too.

Tito Puente was born in El Barrio

just three years after his parents arrived

from Puerto Rico.

Always interested in music,

as a teenager, he turned away from that of his parents.

(swing music playing)

For Puente, nothing beat swing.

At 14, he saw drummer Gene Krupa at the Paramount Theater.

"I knew right there what I wanted--

to be Gene Krupa," he later said.

(song ends)

But Puente found immediate work in the local Latin bands

and took up the timbales.

He soon found himself under the wing of Mario Bauzá.

He was one of my mentors.

He taught me a lot about playing, performing,

rehearsing bands.

I worked with Machito for quite a few years.

Then the war came around and I was drafted.

SMITS: A bugler and gunner's mate in the Navy,

Puente saw combat in World War II.

He also played saxophone in bands to entertain the crews.

By the end of the 1940s, Puente was running his own band

and revolutionizing the role of the timbales.

SANABRIA: He starts making the instrument

a vibrant force in the orchestra.

Very much like Gene Krupa.

Before Gene Krupa, drummers were not featured artists,

or anything like that.

All of a sudden Gene Krupa comes out

and he's like a featured soloist.

Tito does the same thing.

SMITS: Puente was just getting started.

His career as a consummate musician,

bandleader and arranger lasted over 50 years.

SANABRIA: As Mario Bauzá said many, many times,

nobody has done more for Afro-Cuban music

than Tito Puente.


(song ends, applause)

(mambo music playing)

SMITS: The Big Three battled nightly for supremacy in New York

before legions of new fans.

HARLOW: We were called mambonicks,

with an N-I-C-K-S on the end.

And we were like guys that liked to mambo and liked to dance

and really, the only place to go was the Palladium.

SMITS: In midtown Manhattan,

the Palladium had once been a dance studio.

Now it was the Home of the Mambo.

The first time I was at the Palladium

I would say was one of the highlights of my life.

I was just a teenager and I was out to dinner with my parents

and they took me to the Palladium.

(horns play gentle melody)

And we sat down, and my mother was wearing

a mink coat and jewelry,

and here was this mixture of people--

every race, every color, every creed--

all dancing together.

(gentle melody continues)

The emcee came out and said, "And here they are,

the couple you've been waiting for, Cuban Pete and Millie."

And the audience went crazy, absolutely crazy.

They came out and they did this wild mambo.

(gentle melody continues)

And you have to remember that he was tan-- café con leche...

...and she was white.

And in 1955, to have a mixed couple...

dance on the stage,

any stage, was... had never been done before.

And he took her in one of the steps and he put her

between his legs and my mother went, "Oh, my God."

(gentle melody continues)

It was like watching liquid velvet.

(song fades)

Going dancing at the Palladium was it.

That was Madison Square Garden, you know?

You went there to dress up and to show off and to dance.

(mambo playing)

WASHBURNE: What the music did

was bring together a wide array of cultures:

Jews, Italians, uh, African-Americans,

different Latino cultures.

And the dance floor served as the meeting point

that enabled people to coexist peacefully.

It was the beginning of integration,

true integration in New York City.

SMITS: The cosmopolitan scene of the Palladium

struck a chord with many young Jews in New York,

including some who would play key roles in popular music

in the coming years.

Wolfgang Grajonca had been born in Berlin

and come to the United States an orphan,

his mother killed in the Holocaust.

At the Palladium, using the Americanized name Bill Graham,

the future rock impresario would develop a lifelong passion

for Latin music and dance,

even once winning the ballroom's amateur dance contest.

He later said, "Why should I ever want to be

"President of the United States?

I've accomplished something better."

I-I have no idea.

I wouldn't want to speculate on why Jewish people,

um, love Latin music or Chinese food,

but it's just kind of the way it is.

I think what Bill Graham and a lot of other people

of his generation heard or got

from the Latin music thing...

I think it was sex.


Sexual freedom had not yet come to America.

And most people who were young were not having sex, okay?

So, when you danced with somebody... wow.

Expatriate Jewish immigrants in the United States

had nothing to dance to.

You turn on the radio of the '40s and '50s

and it just couldn't be more alien

to the experience they had come from.

♪ How much is that doggie in the window? ♪

♪ Ruff, ruff ♪

♪ The one with the waggily tail? ♪

Gentile music.

But the Latin music,

that wasn't Gentile music, that was soul music

and I think that they could really relate to it.

SMITS: The ongoing fusion of jazz and Latin music

found a comfortable home at the Palladium as well.

Located near the New York jazz clubs,

the ballroom attracted the leading players of the day.

Soon movie stars began making the scene.

The Palladium had become a hipster's paradise.

HARLOW: But the Palladium had one rule.

They didn't care what color you were,

they didn't care how old you were,

they didn't care how fat you were,

but you had to be able to dance.

SMITS: The best of the Palladium dancers

developed professional careers.

Millie Donay, an Italian-American,

and Pedro "Cuban Pete" Aguilar,

a New York Puerto Rican, set the standard.

Cuban Pete's mambo evolved over time,

shaped by friendships with the musicians

and invented in collaboration with Donay.

She died in 2007.

She taught me a whole lot.

I used to flirt with her on the floor

and they came out to be steps.

I tripped once and fell.

You know what Millie said to me?

"Do it again! That was great, do it again!"

I said, "I'll kill you."

She was the best. Really.

She was the best.

♪ Whoo-hoo!

(song fades)


SMITS: Another team used the Palladium

as the stepping stone to a career that lasted decades.

Augustine "Augie" Rodríguez at first only watched.

RODRIGUEZ: I used to study dancers.

Cuban Pete was the best.

And I did six months of just looking

and trying to study...

I felt it, but...

SMITS: He also kept an eye

on a young Puerto Rican from East Harlem, Margo Bartolomei.

I used to try to be the first guy to go there;

20 guys were on her already

and she'd dance with them.

She looked great-- great...


(sultry music plays)

SMITS: They finally met after Margo's sister approached her

to enter a dance contest with Augie.

BARTOLOMEI: And we went in and we won the contest.

The first time we ever danced together.

Of course we weren't professional.

We weren't trained, but we had it.

SMITS: Bitten by the dance bug,

they applied to schools on scholarship,

which soon transformed their mambo.

BARTOLOMEI: We went to school,

dance school,

and whatever we learned that day,

we used to come in and put it into the mambo.


BARTOLOMEI: Unknowingly, we were creating a style.

RODRIGUEZ: Pum-pi-pim-pim-pim,

pi-pim-pim-pim, one, two, three.

BARTOLOMEI: And we were the first ones, really, to put in turns,

slides and tricks into the mambo.

I used to spin. Ooh....

And she'd go down to the floor.

BARTOLOMEI: We always had to end with that.


(song ends, applause continues)

Mambo! Mambo!


SMITS: Augie and Margo weren't the only ones

riding the Latin dance wave of the '50s to success.

Broadway and Hollywood turned mambo,

and escalating ethnic tensions,

into the hit West Side Story.

(dramatic music plays)

Postwar New York now held over half a million Puerto Ricans,

many newly arrived.

♪ I'll get a terrace apartment... ♪

SMITS: The musical transformed their hopes and struggles into song.

♪ Life can be bright in America ♪

♪ If you can fight in America

♪ Life is all right in America

♪ If you're all white in America. ♪

SMITS: Others sought to repackage the craze for Main Street USA.

ARTHUR MURRAY (on record): ♪ They were doing the mambo

♪ While I just stood around.

Aha! Even the records say, "What the heck is the mambo?"

And we know from your letters

that you would like to learn the mambo

if it didn't take too long and you could do it at home.

Well, my husband says he can teach you the foundation step

of the dance in less than a minute.

So here is your teacher, Arthur Murray.

SMITS: As the mambo began to fade...

♪ Hey!

...Pérez Prado came through with another number-one hit,

"Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White."

For many it was the introduction to the new, easier, Cuban dance,

the cha-cha-cha.

The cha-cha-cha was really popular,

especially with younger audiences,

because it was at a slower tempo,

so it was easier to dance to.

The cha-cha, if you think about the dance stuff,

is actually the idiot's dance, because it's easiest to learn.

"Ooh, we're gonna do the cha-cha."

And the people... That's what they're saying.

The cha-cha was, uh, easier.

The cha-cha was easy.

SMITS: The cha-cha-cha broadened Latin music's appeal.

So did a new television show, I Love Lucy,

starring Cuban singer and bandleader Desi Arnaz

and his wife, Lucille Ball.

(laughter and applause)

Before its debut,

the two had to convince network executives

that the U.S. was ready to accept the premise:

a cross-cultural marriage between a Cuban man

and an American woman.

Top ratings proved them right.

♪ That means that I...

♪ Love...

♪ You.


SMITS: But the U.S.'s love affair in the '50s

with all things Latin was not to last.

Several things happened to-to...

force the decline of the music, the culture...

The main thing was that Cuba was taken over

by Fidel Castro and the source of the music was cut off.

The doors to Cuba slammed shut.

And they slammed shut psychologically and politically

in the United States.

Cuban music, Latin music, all of a sudden became the music

of Castro and the Cuban Revolution and the Communists.

(opening chord of the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night")

♪ It's been a hard day's night

♪ And I've been working like a dog... ♪

One of the worst things that could happen

to the Latin music industry, uh, was the Beatles

and the popularity of rock and roll in the mid-1960s

because really that captured the youth in the United States,

and in the Caribbean, for that matter.

♪ Work all day to get you money to buy you things... ♪

FLORES: I loved my rock and roll-- I loved the Beatles.

I was affected by all of that.

The '60s, with the advent of rock and roll, R&B,

changed the music scene, even in East Harlem.

Because now you have a third generation that's coming up.

They're coming up in the projects.

Now this is my generation.

And they're much... even much more English-speaking

than their predecessors.

At that time, you know, how could we sit down

and start listening to rock and roll, as good as it was,

because I liked the rhythm patterns, the drums especially,

all the things they did.

But, you know, musically, we're talking about music--

saxes, trumpets, this and that,

the brightness and soft and loud.

Here are the Beatles!

(deafening cheers)

COLON: I'm not talking about popularity

and, uh, playing a concert with 60,000 people, you know?

We never were able to do that.


SMITS: Ironically many early rock songs,

like "Twist and Shout" covered by the Beatles,

contain Latin influences in their chord progressions,

bass lines and rhythms.

(playing "Twist and Shout")

(cheering continues)

♪ Shake it up, baby, now

♪ Shake it up, baby

♪ Twist and shout...

SMITS: They were the works of songwriters and producers

in New York, in the Brill Building,

located just four blocks away from the Palladium.

♪ Come on and work it on out... ♪

SMITS: Many were mambonicks

like Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman,

who wrote hits for the Drifters,

including "Save the Last Dance for Me."

♪ But don't forget who's taking you home ♪

SMITS: Pomus would call their work "Jewish Latin."

♪ So, darling

♪ Save the last dance for me.

RUBINSON: The influence of the Latin music

on rock and roll was seminal.


Latin music was everywhere, it was universal,

for us growing up in the '50s and naturally,

when the musicians then turned to the recording industry

and started writing songs, producing records and so forth,

people started making music that they had heard all their lives,

which became the Latin influence on rock and roll,

and particularly on pop music.

("Louie Louie" playing)

SMITS: Other classic songs have a direct lineage from Latin music,

like "Louie Louie."

♪ Louie, Louie...

SMITS: It was the Kingsmen's version of an R&B record,

which in turn was based on a cha-cha-cha,

(Latin version of song playing)

...written by Cuban René Touzet.

(The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" plays)

The riffs and rhythms of Latin music

became part of the rock arsenal.

(in unison with the beat to "Satisfaction"): One, two, cha-cha-cha.

MICK JAGGER: ♪ Hey, hey, hey.

Compare the Beatles' "Day Tripper"...

(opening guitar riff of "Day Tripper" plays)

...with this Machito record from the '40s.

(a similar riff played on horns)

Or "Caramelos," a Cuban hit from 1960...

(piano riff)

...with the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin'."

One, two, three! ♪ Good lovin'...

(similar guitar riff to "Caramelos'" piano riff)

When the records came out

with the Cuban or the Latin influence in them,

the people had no idea what they were hearing.

They'd never heard it before.

They just loved it.

(bluesy rock tune plays)

SMITS: Latin sounds disappeared into the mix that created rock,

but not for long.

Far away from New York's Latin scene,

a blues rock group would take a Latin sound international.

In the psychedelic years of the '60s,

the most influential rock venue in San Francisco

was the Fillmore,

run by former mambonick Bill Graham.

Graham ran his ballroom with a specific model in mind.

The Fillmore is-- and then all the psychedelic ballrooms,

'cause they all take their cue from the Fillmore--

the Fillmore is Bill Graham's recreation of the Palladium

circa 1953 in Manhattan.

Crystal mirror ball turning

with the lights going in all directions

and people perceiving that in a manner

they hadn't in the Palladium;

bands playing and improvising and extending their sets;

people dancing.

I mean, you know, they were freak dancing, but they danced.

He... Bill always wanted everybody

who came to the Fillmore to dance.

(psychedelic rock music plays)

SMITS: He had also taken an interest in a young local guitarist,

a kid he'd first met trying to sneak into the Fillmore.

His name was Carlos Santana.

Santana was born in Mexico, the son of a Mariachi violin player.

He too played violin himself as a boy

on the streets of Tijuana for change,

as well as with his father in local bars.

SANTANA: It was one night where we were in the lowest part of Tijuana,

you know, the... it smelled like puke and vomit and piss

in this... whore joint.

I mean, the-the cheapest whores.

Makes my stomach sick just to think about it.

And we were playing this music...

and I just started crying,

part crying and part anger

'cause I didn't want to be there.

So my father said to me, "What's the matter?"

And I says, "I don't want to play this music

"and I don't want to be here.

"I know that you need me to help you...

"to pay the rent,

"but I can't stand the smell, and I can't stand these people

"and I can't stand this music.

It's just, you know, it's making me sick to my stomach."

So he said to me, "So what do you like,

that American crap music?"

which is like Little Richard and Chuck Berry.

And I go, "Yeah.

"Now, Dad, look at where we are.

Could that music be any worse than this?"

(electric guitar plays blues riff)

SMITS: Leaving violin behind,

Santana picked up the guitar

and felt an immediate bond.

(guitar continues playing)

In the early '60s,

Santana's family moved to a Latino neighborhood

in San Francisco-- the Mission District.

By then Carlos was already playing in bands

and in love with the blues.

All of us are children of B.B. King, you know.

Just like B.B. King might be a child of T-Bone

and other people, we're children of B.B. King.

B.B. KING: ♪ Well, you know where I'm from, baby... ♪

RUBINSON: Carlos's heroes were not Mongo Santamaria or Tito Puente.

He didn't know about those people.

He was from Mexico.

He was from California.

He was a California dude.

(organ playing)

SMITS: The Santana band started out as a blues-rock band,

but evolved over time as members came and went

and different influences entered the mix.

Mike Carabello, a high school friend of Carlos,

was the first to introduce the conga,

having learned to play in drumming circles in the city.

And it was everybody's influence.

Like, "Okay, let's try a little bit of jazz this time."

"Let's do a little bit of Miles Davis."

"No, let's do a little bit of Gabor Szabo thing this time."

"Let's do a little bit of a Beatles thing."

"Let's do a little bit of a Stones thing."

And you mix that all together and we still had our sound.

SMITS: By 1969, the band had gelled,

each member bringing something unique to the sound.

It's very important to understand

that the early Santana band

was a masterful creative collaboration.

Carlos Santana was a great blues guitarist.

Michael Carabello, the conga player,

and Chepito Areas, the timbales player,

they brought the Latin battery to the sound.

Gregg Rolie was a huge contribution on organ.

He was a great musician and, you know,

ultimately sang their hit records,

but the organ was a big part of what they were doing.

Michael Shrieve was the-the right drummer

to tie the whole package together.

David Brown was African-American.

He played fine bass

and brought that sort of United Colors of Benetton thing

to the scene that was so important to their message.

CARABELLO: How it happened that there was

a Puerto Rican in the band, a Mexican in the band,

a Nicaraguan in the band, an Irish guy in the band,

a Norwegian guy in the band and a black guy in the band...

We didn't do that on purpose, you know,

but the music came out of that.

SMITS: Visually the band may have suggested world harmony,

but coming from the Mission District gave it an edge.

MICHAEL SHRIEVE: It wasn't any hippie thing.

It was like a street gang, but the weapon was music.

You make a mistake,

maybe like hippies would say, "Oh, you know, that's cool, man,

"you know, you're making a good effort,

and, you know, try it again."

It was more like... you know?

SELVIN: They weren't hippies.

They walked on stage and it was the Mission District.

You know, I was sure they had switchblades in their pockets.

(band performs "Incident at Neshabur")

SANTANA: Women started dancing differently to us

than they were dancing to Jimi Hendrix and Cream,

the Grateful Dead.

They weren't catching butterflies.

They were more like, you know, this is the gift from God,

and sensual.

And Santana music can truly accentuate that

without even trying.

(song fades)

SMITS: As the band evolved toward a more Latin sound,

it had a key supporter giving it work and rehearsal space,

even suggesting Latin songs to cover, like "Evil Ways."

♪ You've got to change your evil ways... ♪

SELVIN: Bill Graham recognized it immediately.

He understood better than the guys in the band

what they were dealing with.

It gave him a chance to have his music reach the audience

that he wanted it to reach.

SMITS: Graham seized an opportunity for the band

when the organizers of a rock festival

near Woodstock, New York, found themselves in trouble.

Bill got very much involved because he was the only one

in the country at that point who really knew

how to put on a show for 100,000 people.

And, of course, Bill being who he was, he said,

"You got to put my band on."

SANTANA: And he said to us,

"There is going to be a festival

"that's gonna, like, be the festival of festivals

"and I want you to be in it.

"I know you haven't... you know, your album's not out,

"people don't know you from anything,

"but they requested my help

"and I told them the only way I'd help them

is if they put Santana on."

"What the hell is Santana?"

SMITS: The band arrived

at the Woodstock festival on its second day,

believing that they'd go on in 12 hours.

But in the afternoon,

they were suddenly rushed on stage.

Assuming he'd have hours to come down,

Carlos had taken LSD.

SANTANA: The guitar neck,

it felt like a-a...

electric snake that wouldn't stand still.

That's why I'm making ugly faces,

trying to make the snake stand still

so I can, like, play it, you know.

And inwardly I'm just... I remember saying over and over,

"God, I'll never do this again-- ev er--

if you can just keep me in time and in tune."

SMITS: The Santana band's performance,

with its innovative use of Afro-Cuban percussion,

was one of the hits of the festival,

but it became legendary when the Woodstock movie was released.

SHRIEVE: So when the movie came out,

when Woodstock actually came out,

we went to go to the show, all together,

um, with everybody else.

It wasn't a special screening or anything like that.

In fact, we waited in line to buy our tickets.

And I remember the audience from the show before us

were coming out and people were pointing at us.

Then when we went in and we saw it...

I know we were all blown away.

I know I was, completely.

I didn't know whether to sink down in my seat

or stand up and say, "That's me, that's me!"

You know, like five or six of me up there on the screen.

I said, "Why did they put a camera on me

that made me look like a bug?"

(guitar solo playing)

And that just broke us internationally.

After that... it was all over.

SMITS: After Woodstock,

the band's Afro-Cuban blues hybrid

became an integral part of the American soundscape.

And Latinos in the U.S.

had their first popular music superstar,

Carlos Santana.

From Cuba to Harlem to the stage at Woodstock,

the journey of the music had only just begun.

(music fades)

Stay tuned.

Coming up next...

RUBEN BLADES: They had this raw power

and we all went, whoa.

1970s New York-- a musical re volution was underway.

It was the essence of the Latino soul.


Coming up next on Latin Music USA.

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