Jorge Santana, Latin-Rock Guitarist, Is Dead at 68

Jorge Santana, Latin-Rock Guitarist, Is Dead at 68

Jorge Santana, Latin-Rock Guitarist, Is Dead at 68

Jorge Santana, Latin-Rock Guitarist, Is Dead at 68

Jorge Santana, the guitarist for the Latin-rock band Malo, best remembered for the 1972 hit “Suavecito,”died on May 14 at his home in San Rafael, Calif. He was 68.

His death was confirmed by Michael Vrionis, the manager of his brother, the guitarist Carlos Santana. No cause was given.

The San Francisco-based band Malo — the name means “bad” in Spanish — played a laid-back fusion of jazz, rock and different forms of Latin music, not unlike the sound that catapulted Carlos Santana to international fame. Jorge Santana’s rock guitar playing was backed by percussion and horns more typical of Latin jazz.

The group’s debut album, titled simply “Malo,” was released in 1972. It featured “Suavecito,” a smooth, melodic song that peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard singles chart and became a staple for fans of Latin-tinged rock.

“A wailing guitar, a lively Latin rhythm section and crisp horns distinguish Malo, a San Francisco band under the leadership of Jorge Santana, Carlos’s brother,” a review by Loraine Alterman in The New York Times said in 1972. “In this all‐original album there are shades of Eric Clapton in Jorge’s guitar playing and traces of Blood, Sweat and Tears in some of the brass arrangements.”

Malo made four albums before a highly publicized breakup. Mr. Santana later had a solo career and played with the celebrated New York-based salsa collective the Fania All-Stars.

Guillermo Jorge Santana was born on June 13, 1951, in Autlán, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, to Josefina and Jose Santana. His father was a musician, and Jorge took up the guitar as a teenager in San Francisco. When he was still quite young he joined the Malibus, a rhythm and blues band with a horn section that evolved into Malo.

Mr. Santana worked with his brother Carlos’s management company and toured with him. In 1994 they released an album, “Santana Brothers.”

In addition to his brother Carlos, Mr. Santana is survived by another brother, Antonio; his wife, Donna Santana; a son, Anthony; a daughter, Michelle Santana; four sisters, Lety Santana, Laura Porras, Irma Santana and Maria Vrionis; and a grandson.

The New York Times contributed reporting.


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