Bill [Graham, concert promoter; note] called the whole band to a meeting. That was sometime in July 1969, when he lived in the Mill Valley, the white side of the Bay Area, where the fine pissants lived. We drove to him and admired the villas. He had prepared a nice buffet for us outside. We were totally impressed. Then he sat down and explained to us what it was all about. Usually he was in a hurry, but this time he took his time: he had a lot to say. "Some groups are not doing very well right now. Hendrix isn't selling, Jim Morrison's in trouble for exposing himself. And I hear Sly is overdoing it with the coke..."
He described to us in detail what was going on in the rock world back then. "I will send you to the east coast, and when you come back, everything will be different. First you'll go to Atlantic City, New York, Boston and Philadelphia and finally to this big festival in Texas, where you'll perform with Sam & Dave, Led Zeppelin and B. B. King. You play in small halls in front of one and a half thousand to two thousand people, then at festivals in front of fifteen to thirty thousand people and then at a huge festival in the north of the state of New York in front of maybe eighty or ninety thousand people. You're gonna be great. This festival in Woodstock will change everything for Santana. After that, people everywhere will recognize you, and you'll be totally freaked out. You will believe that you have always been famous, and people will treat you like gods. And after that you will suddenly need a shoehorn when you enter a room, so thick will your heads be." Bill was very direct. "Just stay on the carpet. Don't start spinning."
We assured him, "Hey, man, give us a break from this hippie bullshit. We're from the ghetto, we're real. We don't think so." Bill got serious. "Believe me, it will happen, for sure." Our first album should be out soon. Before we left California, Columbia Records had one of their annual meetings, and we drove there and gave a special concert for the vendors, marketing experts, PR people and bigwigs like Clive Davis. I didn't meet Clive back then, at least I don't remember it. The purpose of this show was to inspire the employees of the record company for their bands and their new records - to give them an additional boost. We gave the album the name that was obvious: Santana.
I always felt like a cat in a dog kennel at these company meetings because some people were running around in suits shouting "Hey, baby". These were the people who earned all the credit for our music and made money with it, claiming that we owe our success to them. Clive was an exception, as I was to find out later. The evening after the meeting we were in New York playing at Fillmore East, the concert hall Bill had opened there the year before to bring the magic of San Francisco to the East Coast. We were at the bottom of the posters again - more precisely, our name wasn't even on the scoreboard because there weren't so many names on it.