The King Family  
     When asked to describe how he met his wife of 30 plus years

carlos-deborah.jpgSantana said that in 1972 he was famous and making money, but felt empty and lonely.
It was at a Tower of Power concert in San Rafael and he said it was love at first sight.
    "I saw these ojos, these eyes," Carlos Santana said, fluttering his hands to illustrate his wife's potent charm.

Santana married Deborah Sara King, 1973 founder of a health food shop and daughter of the West Coast's most important guitarist in the forties and fifties. The couple enjoy a rich family life with their three children Salvador, Stella, Angelica.

Deborah Santana's father was Saunders King a rhythm and blues  pioneer who played with Billie Holiday. Carlos has said his father in law was his early idol B.B. King's "inspiration."

The ground breaking R&B singer/guitarist Saunders King, who was affiliated with the San Francisco area throughout his career scored his biggest hit on his first album, S K Blues in 1942. This was way before T-Bone Walker, Pee Wee Crayton and B.B. King hit the charts

Saunders King [b. Saunders Samuel King, 13 March 1909, Staple, Louisiana, USA, d. 31 August 2000, Oakland, California, USA.] King's musical career began singing gospel in his father's church in Oakland. He learned piano, banjo and ukulele.  King took up the electric guitar in 1938 after hearing the first real soloist guitarist Charlie Christian in the Benny Goodman band. Early on, Saunders was singing with the Southern Harmony Four for an NBC radio station in San Francisco. King formed his own band in 1942 and often played in San Francisco on Fillmore Street.

King's first recording for the small lable Rhythm Records had  his biggest hit as "Saunders Blues." The song achieved more fame under the title S.K. Blues and became a staple in the repertoires of many blues shouters, such as Jimmy Witherspoon and Big Joe Turner.

Saunders King role as a pioneer of the electrified blues guitar has taken a back seat to the mighty T-Bone Walker, but it is a fact that King recorded his hit S.K.Blues before Walker made his recording debut on that instrument.

He had a significant impact on the West Coast blues scene of the '40s but was held back by numerous personal problems including the suicide of his wife in 1942, a serious wound from a .45-caliber pistol fired by his landlord in 1946, and his serving time at San Quentin prison for heroin possession. King retired from music in 1961 and dedicated time to the church.

In 1979 King was asked to guest on Carlos Devadip Santana's ONENESS album. When he passed away in his Oakland home he had lived to a ripe old age of 91.

 
"The first time I heard the music of Saunders King I felt deep respect and admiration for the manifested elegance, grace, dignity, beauty and raw sensuality."
Carlos Santana's
 testimony for this reissued CD.

"The net result is an attractive package that will stand as the definitive CD overview of Saunders King's career on record. It should also elevate his status as a true pioneer of the electric blues guitar and R&B generally."
ace records

Merl Saunders:  I used to love Saunders King my name is actually Sanders, but I changed it because I liked the sound of Saunders King. My mom and dad used to take me to this supper club and I'd hear Saunders King at 10 or 11 o clock in the morning, back when Fillmore Street was like 125th Street in New York. Chapter Eleven Additions Garcia by Blair jackson

 

One of Santana's  favorite stories about the art of music comes from his father-in-law through his work on a musical production with jazz great Louis Armstrong for one of the TV networks.

"Everybody had sheets of paper to read-like an accordion, pages and pages," he said. "Louis Armstrong just had his handkerchief and his trumpet. And somebody said, `Yeah, Louis, if you don't read music, how do you know where you are? How do you know when to play and what to play?' He said, `Look man, I close my eyes, and I see the notes hanging from a tree. The ones that are most ripe, those are the ones that I choose to play. The juicy ones.' "People who read have an advantage over people who don't, but it's better to read life than to read the paper," he concludes. "That's my analogy. I'm not saying ignorance is bliss. Actually, if you don't read music, that doesn't make you ignorant. Birds don't read. Birds can go out there and they'll still have a song in the morning.

 

www.sfmission.com/santana