Successful Bands Share This Life Phenomenon

I remember, with great fondness, when I was working on my “Guitar Heroes” volume 1 CD.

The guest guitar players were Ian Moss, Pete Wells (check out my interview here) of Rose Tattoo, Adam Pringle and Ray Beadle.

The bass players and drummers were equally impressive a line up and everyone of them had a big story.

Mal Green recorded, played drums on some tracks and produced the album.

It was a great experience for me working with Mal who had been the drummer in Split Enz.

I’d always bring sushi for lunch and those lunch breaks were a time that we’d talk. So I got to hear about Mal’s time with Split Enz who morphed into Crowded House, now that drips & ouzes success!

On one occasion I asked Mal “what does it take to make a successful band”?

His answer quite surprised me…

Mal said “I can tell you Steve, it’s this simple.

All the stars need to align for you. If they do there’s nothing you can do to stop it but if they don’t there’s nothing you can do to make it happen”.

I wasn’t expecting that as an answer!!!

Musician Biography (must) Reads

A few years back I became interested in Herbie Hancock’s music. I wanted to learn more so I ordered his biography “Possibilities” which I planned to read over the upcoming Xmas holidays.

Then while browsing in a bookstore I found a new biography of Jimmie Page (by Chris Salewicz) so that Xmas break I read both.

I was struck and astonished at what charmed lives both Jimmie Page and Herbie Hancock led.

…Everything they touched seemed to turn to gold.

Could they be examples of Mal’s theory of the stars aligning?


“All the stars need to align for you. If they do there’s nothing you can do to stop it but if they don’t there’s nothing you can do to make it happen “

— Mal Green, Split Enz

Carlos Santana is another case in point when talking about success.

I’ve followed Santana from the beginning and his evolution was an inspiration to witness.

Each album marked an improvement in his playing.

Even on the first album simply called “Santana” his playing was raw but there was always something unique, something likeable about the way he played.

The second album, Abraxas, is still something really special today.

The Santana Discography (brief) Evolution

Neil Schon, at the age of 15, joined the band for the next two albums “Santana 3” & “Caravanserai“.

It was clear that Schon & Santana pushed each other to another level but these 2 albums must surely rate among the great guitar albums.

Around that time Santana met the man that Pat Metheny called the best guitar player in the world “John McLaughlin”.

Subsequently they recorded an album together “Love, Devotion & Surrender” which was a tribute to the great Jazz sax player “John Coltrane”.

After working with McLaughlin Santana’s next 2 albums “Welcome” & “Borbaleta” saw his playing lift to another level again.

Being around McLaughlin, who is enormously driven and committed to creating music at the highest standard, would have pushed Santana to the limit.

Part of the reason why I found the music of Coltrane, McLaughlin and Santana attractive is because they were constantly growing and developing as musicians.

We can mark Carlos Santana’s growth as a musician through the song “Black Magic Woman” which is the band’s best known song.

It was first recorded on Abraxsas but the band went on to record it several times.

My favourite version is from “Lotus” which was a live album recorded in Japan.

Lotus is one of my favourite albums and Carlos’s playing was at its peak.

The Lotus version was the one I wanted to emulate on my “Guitar Heroes Vol 2”.

Check Out The Guitar Heroes Album Trilogy!

I had the idea that I’d like to start with acoustic guitar, play the melody with my Dobro then break into the electric guitar for a huge contrast.

My recording of “Black Magic Woman” is something really special to me for a variety of reasons.

Of course there’s the Santana story but Dennis Wilson recorded and produced Volume 2 of my “Guitar Heroes”.

It was then through Dennis I got to meet Rick Fenn from 10CC, Rick was kind enough to be one of the guest guitarists.

He did the middle solo at 2:00 to 2:48 on Black Magic Woman and he did all the fills between the vocal lines, all knocked up on the spot and first takes, a true professional…a real privilege for me to have recorded and played with Rick.

I did the last solo because I wanted to stretch out and explore improvisation like I heard Santana do on Lotus and in company like Rick Fenn and Dennis Wilson it was in a Maserati.

The Guitar Heroes Albums can be purchased here at JB HI-FI

Cheers,

Steve