Carlos Santana Talks Drug Use in New Autobiography

By Brent McCluskey 11/04/14

In The Universal Tone, the virtuoso guitarist recounted the difficulties he faced while playing on drugs, particularly his legendary performance at Woodstock.

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Santana at Woodstock. Photo via

Legendary guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana opened up about personal drug use throughout his lengthy musical career in his new autobiography, The Universal Tone.

From mescaline to cocaine to LSD, Santana has tried it all. In his autobiography, the famed guitarist noted the difficulties of playing while high and the disconnect he felt from the music.

“It was like trying to grab a bar of soap that keeps slipping through your fingers,” Santana said, recalling Woodstock and what it was like trying to shred complex riffs while being high on mescaline. He promised God that if he could hit the right notes, “I’d never do this again.” 

But that promise didn’t last very long, and Santana candidly admitted to copious drug use during the early days of music. “I used to take a LOT of LSD,” he emphasized. 

Santana quickly rose to fame and found himself amongst other musical greats like Jimi Hendrix, who wanted to be in Santana’s band, and Miles Davis, who first introduced him to cocaine. While Santana often used other drugs, cocaine was not his favorite. “Cocaine put a distance between my heart and me,” he wrote. 

Although Santana’s music has been met with great success over the years, he realized some may view him as just another cosmic hippie leftover. But according to Santana, being cosmic is pretty groovy. “When people call me cosmic, or crazy, I take it as a compliment,” Santana writes. “My craziness is working. How’s your sanity doing?”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.