In the late ’60s, a teenaged Raul Rekow witnessed a concert that would change his life forever. The event took place in Rekow’s hometown of San Francisco at the famous Cow Palace. It was a massive multiple billing of 20 groups playing everything from rock to jazz to acid rock to experimental music, and everything in between. At the very end of the concert, one final group took the stage, a band by the name of Santana. For Rekow, the memories of all the other bands that had performed that evening were instantly erased. In Santana, Rekow had found the future — his future.
Santana’s melding of rock, jazz, Spanish, and African rhythms influenced the teenager to form his own band and to explore that particular musical hybrid. He took up the conga drums and practiced relentlessly. Not long after he began to master conga he formed Soul Sacrifice, a Bay Area outfit that was known for meticulous interpretations of early ’70s Santana songs. Later he joined the band Malo, which featured Carlos Santana’s brother Jorge on guitar. After joining yet another Latin Fusion band in the mid-’70s, Rekow was finally invited, in 1976, to jam with his hero, Carlos Santana.
Rekow has been a member of the band ever since, except for a two-year absence in the late ’80s. His three-decade-plus tenure has earned him the distinction of having played in the band longer than anyone, save Santana himself. During his countless hours spent behind the percussion rig, Rekow has also performed with a variety of top stars, including singers Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, and instrumental artists such as Herbie Hancock, and has recorded on his own with his Santana percussion partner, Karl Perazzo.