Insights into Carlos Santana’s tragic relationship with his mother

(The following article contains mentions of sexual assault.)

His recent health crisis aside, Carlos Santana seems to have it all. He enjoyed critical and commercial success with his band and as a solo artist in the late 1960s and 1970s. His band of the same name was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The following year, Santana enjoyed a late-career renaissance with 1999’s album Supernatural, winning Grammy Awards and taking home eight gold gramophones.

Collaborating with then-popular artists like Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill and Michelle Branch ushered the legendary guitarist into a new generation and expanded his influence even further. Santana also has three grown children, all with musical talents of their own, and he has been happily married to his second wife, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, since 2010.

However, things haven’t always been so “smooth” for the rock legend. Although Santana was close to his mother, their relationship was often shaky and they went years without speaking about their problems. While they eventually reconciled, it took the mother-son couple a lot of work to reconnect.

Carlos Santana’s mother abused his attack

In a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Carlos Santana opened up about his strained relationship with his late mother, Josefina. With his father absent for much of his early life, Santana’s mother ran a tight ship to compensate. Santana told the outlet, “She would come into a room, clear her throat and everyone would pay attention. We were very afraid of her.”

When Santana was older, they became estranged. “There were six or seven things I fought with my mother about. That split lasted from 1962 to 1981,” he recalled. “She didn’t have the skills and tools to communicate. She was either angry or more angry. I was like her for a while, which didn’t go well in the same house. I felt like I was being bullied.”

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While Santana attributed their argument to a variety of reasons, there is one above all others. After he was abused by a family friend, his mother told his siblings and made him feel like it was his fault. When he finally tried to forgive her, it didn’t sit well. “Her face immediately became like a lioness ready to attack, like ‘What do you have to forgive me for?'” the musician said.

Luckily, Santana and his mother were able to make amends. He dedicated his memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story To Light, to her, saying, “I think she probably prayed for me more than anyone, so I wouldn’t get lost” (via NPR).

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is available to help. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).