Gregg Rolie - Lead Vocals, B3 & Keyboards - is responsible for co-founding two phenomenally popular, multi-platinum
many times over super groups, SANTANA and JOURNEY. In 1998, the world class keyboardist-vocalist-producer was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame as part of the original Santana band.
In addition to launching- along with Carlos Santana- the now legendary act, Rolie also co-produced their first four groundbreaking albums. What's more, his singing talents will
forever be immortalized by his unforgettable lead vocals on classic Santana greatest hits including "Black Magic Woman", "Evil Ways" and the Tito Puente composition "Oye Como Va".
Thirty-five years after Gregg and Carlos fortuitously met in San Fancisco, 2001 marked the release of Rolie's third solo album ROOTS, featuring the lead track "Give It To Me". The first-ever release on Bay-Area based Tower Records' new proprietary label 33rd Street, and Rolie's first CD following a several year personal hiatus.
ROOTS found Gregg revisiting the incredible brew of sounds he helped conjure up in the late 60's. Recalling those heady days, he remembers "It was an amazing time. We created something that no one could fathom. It was about
the rhythms and solos more than the songs. It wasn't Latin music, rock music, the blues, not any of the above. It was a combination of all of them".
Rolie calls ROOTS' twelve original selections "Latin rock plus" the instrumentation is Latin percussion, with organ, guitar, horns, and lots of great solo work and songwriting", adding that "I really wanted to go all the way back to my Santana roots".
Those auspicious roots officially began in the late '60s and flowered amazingly in 1969, the year Santana's self-titled debut album was released just weeks after the band gave an electrifying performance at Woodstock. Rolie calls the documentary film made of that landmark concert "the mother of all music Videos", and the event did indeed
skyrocket Santana into instant worldwide renown.
Their second album, the quadruple-platinum, hit packed Abraxas, remains Gregg's favorite from his tenure with the band, and features many of the lead vocals he is best known for.
After choosing to part ways with Santana after album number four, Rolie went immediately on to establish Journey with fellow ex-Santana mate, guitarist Neal Schon, in 1972. In its original incarnation, Journey delivered a unique jazz-rock amalgam that spotlighted solo instrumental work more than vocals. In addition to once again lending his
considerable vocal and keyboard prowess to the endeavor, Rolie co-wrote and co-produced the band's first seven albums and credits the Journey era with substantially honing his songwriting skills, a strength clearly evident on ROOTS' outstanding repertoire.
Rolie toured extensively with Journey, remaining on throughout multiple personnel changes, including the 1978 addition of Steve Perry as lead vocalist ("We were now writing for singers instead of solos", says Rolie) before exiting after the hugely successful 1981 live double album Captured.
During the 80's Rolie played, wrote and produced on the Santana albums Shango and Freedom, and released his debut,
self-titled 1985 solo album and its 1987 follow-up Gringo, before co-founding the all-new Journey-esque rock group The Storm at the tail end of the decade.
The Storm released two albums; 92's eponymous disc that yielded the #13 Billboard Hot 100 hit "I've Got A Lot To
Learn About Love" and 96's Eye Of the Storm.
That same year, Rolie, along with five other original Santana members, formed Abraxas Pool, a spirited
collaboration that resulted in a 1997 critically acclaimed album of the same name.
As you might imagine from his work with Santana and Journey, Gregg is no stranger to great musicianship. Given his experience and his desire to make the music the best it can be, he has chosen some of the best musicians in the world to bring his band and it’s music to life. Gregg was determined to resurrect the sound he helped shape and make famous as Santana's Original Lead Singer and Keyboard Player, while at the same time bringing it forward to the 21st century. To do that required finding just the right mix of experience, musicianship and chemistry. The Gregg Rolie Band is composed of 4 musicians from Santana (2 of them now in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame) and 3 other highly accomplished players. Having worked with some of the biggest names in music over the years and having toured the world many times over, these musicians have the skills to interpret this music in the way it is meant to be interpreted, as Gregg so intimately knows.
On "Rain Dance", which was recorded live, the stamp that Gregg Rolie put on the original Santana sound and the skill and synergy of the musicians in the Gregg Rolie Band, bring the sound of the original Santana band forward to 2009.
Here is an excerpt of one review of this magnificent live CD:
"The live CD “Rain Dance” allows all of you to enjoy what I was able to dig into as Rolie and band dish out the Santana in a fashion that I feel even Carlos himself fails to do these days. The hits come at you fast and furious and the groove is intoxicating to say the least. Numbers like “No One To Depend On”, “Evil Ways” and “Black Magic Woman” still sound as fresh as the day they were first delivered and if you let your mind wander you would feel as though you were taking part in a vintage Santana show. Yes, it is that good and when played at the proper volume will probably spark instantaneous moments of movement in your own and any guests you have over as you listen to it. I felt that Gregg’s voice was still perfectly suited for the material and his keyboards matched the way that I remembered these tunes when I first heard them myself."
More about the band:
Alphonso Johnson is a world renowned bass player and Chapman Stick artist, having played with such artists as Santana, Weather Report, Phil Collins, The Crusaders, Bob Weir, Wayne Shorter, En Vogue, George Duke, Sergio Mendes, Steve Kimock, Tony Williams, Gregory Hines and many others. Gregg and Alphonso first became acquainted during the 1987 Santana reunion tour and have since worked together in Abraxas Pool and on the new Gregg Rolie CD, “Roots”.
Michael Carabello was one of Gregg’s band mates in the original Santana. As such, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 (along with Gregg, Carlos and the rest of the original band) and is one of the only percussionists to have achieved that distinction. He has played with other luminaries such as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Al Jarreau, Narada Michael Walden and many others. Among other things, he and Gregg also worked together in Abraxas Pool.
Ron Wikso has been a friend of Gregg’s since their days together as members of The Storm. Ron was instrumental in bringing Gregg back to the forefront of the music scene when he encouraged him to record the new album, “Roots”, on which Ron played drums and shared engineering and co-production duties. As Gregg says, “it’s all Ron’s fault!” He has also played with many notable artists over the years, including Cher, Foreigner, David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), and many others.
Wally Minko is an incredibly accomplished keyboard player, having toured and recorded with a wide array of artists such as Jean Luc Ponty, The Chieftains, En Vogue, Pink, Toni Braxton, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones and many others. As you can see from that list, he is equally comfortable with Latin, Rock, Jazz, R&B and pretty much any other style of music you can throw at him. This is the first time Wally and Gregg have played together but the combination of these two guys on keyboards is something to marvel at…and they have a blast doing it!
Adrian Areas has known Gregg since he was born! He is the son of original Santana timbale virtuoso, Jose “Chepito” Areas and one listen to Adrian’s incredible timbale work will tell you that the music and the rhythm is in his blood. He’s like a freight train when he plays, repeatedly garnering standing ovations for his solos and playing the kinds of things that would make other mere mortal timbale players want to re-consider their chosen instruments!
Kurt Griffey is the band’s secret weapon. Some people are quick to think that, if it’s not Carlos Santana or Neal Schon, it must not be as good, so they are not ready for a guitarist that can bring all of that to the stage – Kurt delivers big time! He may not be as well known, but he can sure play and if anyone would be able to tell, it’s Gregg, because he’s played with the best of them. Along the way, Kurt has managed to also work with such notables as Randy Meisner (The Eagles), Spencer Davis (Spencer Davis Group), Denny Laine (Wings/The Moody Blues), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf), Johnny Winter, and many others.
So, strap yourself in and get ready to experience the musical and rhythmic freight train that is the Gregg Rolie Band.