Black Magic Woman is a song by Peter Green, an English blues rock singer-songwriter, guitarist and founder of Fleetwood Mac. The song was originally recorded and released by the band in 1968.
However, it was the unique musical arrangement and performance by American rock band – Santana – in 1970, that turned the song into an international hit.
This is the story of the song.
The musical Silent Parent:
Peter Green explained that “Black Magic Woman” was influenced by the song “All Your Love” recorded by American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter – Otis Rush in 1958.
That song was later performed and recorded in 1966 by Peter Green’s former band – John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers – before he joined them. The lead guitarist of the band was in fact Green’s predecessor – Eric Clapton.
One can easily identify that this is a very similar music style to the one displayed in Green’s “Black Magic Woman”.
This is the performance of Green’s former band “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers” of Otis Rushs’ “All Your Love”.
The original “Black Magic Woman” was performed by English (later English- American) blues rock band – Fleetwood Mac.
The song was included in the band’s debut album Fleetwood Mac, also known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.
The album was successful in the UK and reached number 4 in the albums chart.
Later in the year the single Black Magic Woman was one of two songs to be released as singles.
The song became popular and reached number 37 in the UK singles chart. It was performed in live concerts and included in several compilation albums of the band.
The song genre is Blues Rock and it’s length: 2:48 minutes.
The original “Black Magic Woman” performance by “Fleetwood Mac”.
The Santana rock band was formed in 1966 by Mexican-American guitarist songwriter Carlos Humberto Santana Barragán in San Francisco.
Santana played the role of lead guitar, while the lead singer and organ player at that time was Gregg Rolie.
The band went through multiple recording and performing line-ups in its history, with Carlos Santana the only consistent member.
In the next page you will see a photo of the band in 1971.
Carlos Santana had been interested in Peter Green’s work after seeing him perform at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. He then decided to cover the song “Black Magic Woman”.
The song was included in the band’s second album “Abraxas” released in 1970.
Santana’s Black Magic Woman’s genre is regarded as a fusion between Blues rock, Latin rock and Psychedelic rock.
Here are some facts about the song:
The song’s length:
5:24 – the album version
3:20 – the single version
Other longer versions have since been released, including one that runs for 8:56 minutes.
Peak chart positions:
Number 4 in the US and Canada (spending 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart)
Number 14 in Germany
Number 15 in Australia
This is Santana’s cover to the song.
Although similar to Fleetwood Mac’s song structure in melody and lyrics, Santana’s version is markedly different displaying a blend of blues, rock, jazz and Latin beats.
The song uses percussion as well as organ, piano and guitar sounds that renders it it’s signature psychedelic vibe.
Santana “wrapped” Peter Green’s song with opening + closing solo pieces adapted from a 1966 instrumental piece called “Gypsy Queen” by Hungarian American guitarist Gabor Szabo. Gypsy Queen is a blend of jazz, Hungarian and Latin rhythms.
Hence Santana’s version of “Black Magic Woman” has another Silent Parent, in addition to “All Your Love” by Otis Rush cited by Peter Green as the inspiration to his song.
“Gypsy Queen” was omitted from the single version contained on 1974’s Santana’s Greatest Hits album. However, radio stations usually play “Black Magic Woman” and “Gypsy Queen” as one song.
This is “Gypsy queen” – the inspiration to Santana’s opening and closing guitar solos in his version of “Black Magic Woman”.
Santana’s “Abraxas” album:
Peak chart positions for “Abraxas” album (partly thanks to “Black magic Woman”) include:
- Number 1 in the US and Australian charts
- Number 2 in Canada
- Number 7 in the UK, France and the Netherlands chart
- Number 3 in Norway
Abraxas also received several Platinum and Gold certifications as follows:
- US – 5 x Platinum
- Canada 3 x Platinum
- France – Platinum
- UK – Gold
The following page shows the cover of the “Abraxas” album.
The song and its unique style that is a fusion of musical genres, has made an impact on the international music scene and has earned its place as one of the most iconic classics of the 60’s/70’s music.
In my eyes its a song that encapsulates the 60’s era extremely well due to its psychadelic, jazzy, latino and rock nature.
It has a special place in my heart, I will always view it as one of the peaks of contemporary music and I hope I’ve opened a small window for those of you who aren’t familiar with this musical style.