Michael Carabello grew up playing the congas on the streets of San Francisco. If Michael hadn’t convinced his rather shy high school friend, Carlos Santana, to merge his blues-influenced guitar with conga drums, there wouldn’t be the Santana sound that remains internationally recognized today for its percussion and guitar work.
Michael was able to perceive and initiate the use of intricate Latin rhythms and percussion into a blues-based rock and roll band. After playing gigs around the city, Santana was suddenly thrust into the limelight by promoter Bill Graham, who insisted that he would only be involved in Woodstock if Santana played. Santana's show was one of the highlights of the concert and made the band world renowned.
Michael has set the standard for all conga players in rock and roll, world music, and dance music. He set the benchmark that is still firmly in place today. As a result, Michael is the first and only Latin percussionist and conga drummer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with Santana.
After playing on Santana’s first three albums, Michael has gone on to play and record with such influencial musicians as The Rolling Stones, Ronnie Spector, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, Al Jarreau, Gabor Szabo, Chick Correa, Herbie Hancock, Nicky Hopkins, Booker T, Steve Miller, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop, Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller, Alphonso Johnson, Nathan East, Noel Redding, Bernie Worrell, Dennis Chambers, Buddy Miles, Simon Kirk, Harvey Mason, Cindy Blackman, Harold Jones, Narada Michael Walden, Steve Smith, Zakir Hussein, Baba Olatunji, Tito Puente, Patato Valdez, Victor Pantoja, Willie Bobo, Vince Guaraldi, Sly Stone, George Benson, and many others, as well as numerous film scores. His artistry, influence and versitility have helped turn 15 albums and CD’s to platinum and 15 to gold.
In 2016, the original Santana line-up was re-grouped and released the CD Santana IV, which became a top ten album on the Billboard 200. In 2018 Michael released his album The Primitive Medicine Sessions. Michael is now mentoring young artists, both children and adults, at his pre-production recording studio, KingShy Studios, with his bass player and musical director Roger Kimball.
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