Viva Santana!

Santana and Malone reunite after 40 years (YouTube/TVman1981)

Santana and Malone reunite after 40 years (YouTube/TVman1981)

Earlier this month, Stanley Roberts of news station KRON-4 completed a segment about illegal dumping in an Oakland, California neighborhood. It aired on December 9th as part of his People Behaving Badly series and included an interview with a homeless man named Marcus Malone.

Malone was digging through the trash at the illegal dumpsite, looking for anything that could be of use to someone living on the streets. In his interview with Roberts, Malone described one visit to the dump when he discovered a pair of blue jeans with more than $800 in its pocket—money he used to purchase equipment since he sometimes worked as a landscaper. He also told Roberts that he had been a music composer and even played with the “original Santana blues band.”

Carlos Santana is—of course—the famed Mexican-American guitarist whose band Santana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. I could list all sorts of memorable hits by the talented musician—like “Black Magic Woman” and “Soul Sacrifice”—but I’m sure you’re already familiar with his work.

Initially, Roberts assumed that Malone was simply bragging about something that was either false or impossible to confirm or deny. He decided to dig a little deeper, though, and soon realized that what the homeless man told him was actually true!

Santana and Malone in 1967 (Facebook/Stanley Roberts/KRON-4)

Santana and Malone in 1967 (Facebook/Stanley Roberts/KRON-4)

Marcus Malone—known back then as “Marcus the Magnificent”—was a founding percussionist for the Santana Blues Band, played with them from 1967-1969 and helped establish the sound that would later make them famous. Unfortunately, Malone would not share this fame because instead of going into the studio to record the band’s debut album in 1969—and joining them at the Woodstock music festival a few months later—he went to San Quentin Prison. I’m still not sure why, though.

After prison—and while Santana’s success soared—Malone struggled to find work, lived on the streets and basically disappeared. For four decades, he dug through trash while his friend Santana sold millions of records and gained international fame and fortune… at least until December 9th, that is.

As it turned out, Carlos Santana saw Roberts’ People Behaving Badly segment, recognized Malone and immediately drove to Oakland to find him. When his trail ran cold, however, Santana asked his manager to contact Roberts and to arrange a reunion, which he did.

Last Friday, the electrifying guitarist and his fiery former percussionist met for the first time in more than 40 years. And to say it was an emotional reunion would be an understatement. I hate to admit it, but I could even feel some tears welling up… and I don’t even know these guys!

The Santana Blues Band (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Santana Blues Band (San Francisco Chronicle)

“It is an honor to be in your presence,” Santana told his friend. “I always cherish you, man.”

Whether or not Santana plans to help his old friend remains to be seen, but he did mention “hooking up” with Malone again soon. And knowing Santana—a man also famous for his charity work with groups like The Milagro Foundation, Save the Children and Amnesty International—there can be little doubt that these friends will never lose touch again.

Posted on December 22, 2013, in Music, Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This is a very meaningful story about serendipity and friendship. Touching and in keeping with the “spirit of Christmas.”

  2. who did he kill?

  3. he was in prison for manslaughter.What are the details

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