In a spellbinding swirl of Latin rhythms and sensual blues riffs, “Black Magic Woman” blooms, coming to life against Santana’s trademark musical swelter. The intoxicating hit is unrivaled among the band’s already impressive catalog. However, before the song became a chart-topper for Santana, it was another band’s bluesy deep cut.
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Who Wrote It?
“Black Magic Woman” was written by guitarist Peter Green in 1968 for his band Fleetwood Mac. The song was released as a single and then appeared on the band’s 1969 compilation album, The Pious Bird of Good Omen.
The former member of the then-blues rock band reportedly penned the tune about a former flame. At the time, he had no experience with the occult. However, soon after the release of “Black Magic Woman,” black magic would supposedly trigger Green’s breaking point and sudden departure from the group in 1970.
In a 1977 Rolling Stone interview, bandmate Christine McVie recalled his departure, saying it was “an out-of-the-blue shock to everybody. Peter had been quite happy and was starting to write this really incredible music like ‘Green Manalishi.’ It was like he was being lifted.”
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Something happened while the band was touring Germany. McVie explained that Green had met who she called “jet-setters,” saying they were into black magic. They soon introduced him to acid and with that, he fell away.
“Something snapped in him,” McVie told the outlet then. “He dropped this fatal tab of acid and withdrew. He still has this amazing power, but it’s negative. You don’t want him around. We’ve all cried a lot of tears over Peter. We’ve all spent so much time and energy talking him into more positive channels. He’ll just sit there and laugh. ‘FUCK IT . . .’”
Whatever happened or whatever he saw while with the presumed occult group, Green left Fleetwood Mac in search of a Christian life. He declined any royalties he made from the group and any money he received from his music he would send back. “I want to lead a new life,” he would apparently say. “I don’t want to be followed around by the past.”
Santana guitarist Carlos Santana had been a big fan of Fleetwood Mac’s Green-era repertoire before he ever took on “Black Magic Woman.” “I used to go to see the original Fleetwood Mac, and they used to kill me, just knock me out…,” he explained in the book The Guitar Greats. “To me, they were the best blues band.”
. Photo by Jason Squires/WireImage