Carlos Santana has lived an epic life – full of Grammy awards, chart-topping singles and platinum albums. Since his rise to superstardom in the early ’70s, the acclaimed guitarist has become known for fusing rock ‘n’ roll, blues and jazz into a unique and eclectic sound. He and his band of the same name have been delighting listeners with hits like “Maria Maria” and “Smooth” for years.
The music legend has also garnered attention for her romantic relationships. In 2010, Santana married Cindy Blackman, a jazz and rock drummer known for her work with Lenny Kravitz. In a case where opposites don’t attract, Santana said of his wife, “Cindy suits everything I am, from the fire of passion to the vulnerability,” per People. Blackman shared similar sentiments, telling Berklee Online, “When Carlos showed up I really loved where he was in terms of the spiritual path he was on and that was really key for me to develop a relationship.”
Before she married Blackman, there was another woman in the picture for Santana. In 1973, he married his first wife—author, business executive, and social justice activist Deborah Santana. During their 34-year marriage, the two were business partners and joined forces for charitable causes, including a charitable organization that supports underprivileged children. In fact, the two also had three children together.
But why did the longtime couple finally split?
Carlos Santana has admitted his mistakes in his first marriage
Being married to a famous musician can have its downsides. For Deborah Santana, Carlos Santana’s rock star lifestyle came at a price as fans weren’t exactly vying for her attention. In a 2004 interview with San Francisco Gate, Deborah said, “I developed this stoic public personality with him. He’s the star, I’m the closed smiling face.”
In 2007, Deborah filed for divorce, attributing the breakup to “irreconcilable differences.” In her 2005 memoir Space Between The Stars, Deborah called her husband unfaithful. After the book was published, Carlos admitted his mistakes. He said: “I sincerely apologize to her and my children when I was not in my right mind and did something hurtful. It has helped me become more humble and try harder to be the man she wants me to be,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
According to Deborah, there were ups and downs before their split. In her interview with San Francisco Gate, Deborah said that Carlos “would sleep with people on the street.” She continued, “Carlos’ partner was music. My partner was family.” It sounds like these key differences have raised challenging questions about their relationship. She later explained, “He would want to grow and make an effort in his life. And then I would fall in love with him again. I feel like I’ve been married to the same person a few times. “