Gregg Rolie is responsible for co-founding two phenomenally popular, multi-platinum many times over super groups that indeed are, SANTANA and JOURNEY. In 1998, the world class keyboardist-vocalist-producer was inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame as part of the original Santana band. In addition to launching- along with Carlos Santana – the now legendary act, Rolie also co-produced their first four groundbreaking albums.
What’s more, his singing talents will forever be immortalized by his unforgettable lead vocals on classic Santana greatest hits including “Black Magic Woman” “Evil Ways” and the Tito Puente composition “Oye Como Va”.
Thirty-five years after Gregg and Carlos fortuitously met in San Francisco, the year 2001 marked the release of Rolie’s third solo album ROOTS, featuring the lead track “Give It To
Me”. The first-ever release on Bay Area-based Tower Records’ new proprietary label 33rd Street, and Rolie’s first CD following a several year personal hiatus.ROOTS finds Gregg revisiting the incredible brew of sounds he helped conjure up in the late ‘60’s.
Recalling those heady days, he remembers “It was an amazing time. We created something that no one could fathom…it was about the rhythms and solos more than the songs. It wasn’t Latin
music, rock music, the blues—not any of the above. It was a combination of all of them”. Rolie calls ROOTS’ twelve original selections “Latin rock plus…the instrumentation is Latin percussion, with organ, guitar, horns, and lots of great solo work and songwriting”, adding that “I really wanted to go all the way back to my Santana roots”.
Those auspicious roots officially began in the late ‘60s and flowered amazingly in 1969, the year Santana’s self-titled debut album was released just weeks after the band gave an electrifying performance at Woodstock. Rolie calls the documentary film made of that landmark concert “the mother of all music Videos”, and the event did indeed skyrocket Santana into instant worldwide renown. Their second album, the quadruple-platinum, hit packed Abraxas, remains Gregg’s favorite from his tenure with the band, and features many of the lead vocals he is best known for.
After choosing to part ways with Santana after album number four, Rolie went immediately on to establish Journey with fellow ex-Santana mate, guitarist Neal Schon, in 1972. In its original incarnation, Journey delivered a unique jazz-rock amalgam that spotlighted solo instrumental work more than vocals. In addition to once again lending his considerable vocal and keyboard prowess to the endeavor, Rolie co-wrote and coproduced the band’s first seven albums, and credits the Journey era with substantially honing his songwriting skills, a strength clearly evident on ROOTS’ outstanding repertoire. Rolie toured extensively with Journey, remaining on throughout multiple personnel changes, including the 1978 addition of Steve Perry as lead vocalist (“We were now writing for singers instead of solos”, says Rolie) before exiting after the hugely successful 1981 live double album Captured.
During the ‘80’s Rolie played, wrote and produced on the Santana albums Shango and Freedom, and released his debut, self-titled 1985 solo album and its 1987 follow-up Gringo, before co-founding the all-new Journe-esque rock group The Storm at the tail end of the decade. The Storm released two albums ‘92’s eponymous disc that yielded the #13 Billboard Hot 100 hit “I’ve Got A Lot To Learn About Love” and ‘96’s Eye Of the Storm. That same year, Rolie, along with five other original Santana members, formed Abraxas Pool, a spirited collaboration that resulted in a 1997 critically acclaimed album of the same name.