Santana’s the top banana

Eight wins cap 'Supernatural' comeback

It was a Santana “Supernatural” soiree all the way.

Two years after entering the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, guitarist Carlos Santana snapped up eight Grammy awards Wednesday night — tying the record for most Grammys in one night set by Michael Jackson in 1983.

His honors included record of the year; album of the year; rock album; pop collaboration with vocals; pop instrumental performance; rock perf by a duo or group with vocal; rock instrumental for “The Calling,” featuring Eric Clapton; and pop performance by a duo or group with vocals.

A track from “Supernatural” also won song of the year: “Smooth,” written by Itaal Shur & Rob Thomas, on which Santana collaborated with Thomas. The award goes to the songwriters.

Santana, whose career stretches back to Woodstock in 1969, had previously won only one Grammy: for best rock instrumental in 1988.

In one of the big surprises in the awards handed out at L.A.’s Staples Center by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Christina Aguilera won for best new artist.

Otherwise, it was generally an evening of tried-and-true veterans, with few raised eyebrows at the winners. Rhythm & blues group TLC, pop singer Sting, rapper Eminem and country acts Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks all took home two trophies.

Two ’70s icons won their first Grammys: Barry White for R&B performance on “Staying Power” and Black Sabbath for metal perf on “Iron Man.” Tony Bennett won his ninth Grammy, for traditional pop vocal for his Duke Ellington tribute.

Other winners included Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt & Dolly Parton, Phil Collins, Cher, et al.

But the evening clearly belonged to the Mexico-born guitarist, who had a remarkable commercial comeback with the album “Supernatural” last year.

The album, a mix of instrumentals and all-star vocal collaborations that has sold about 6 million copies, is the guitarist’s first chart-topping album in almost 30 years.

In his multiple trips to the podium, Santana respectfully praised his collaborators, including Clive Davis and others at Arista. Davis, embroiled in a corporate turf battle to keep his job, was invited onstage as Santana won album of the year.

“Music is the vehicle for the magic of healing and the music of ‘Supernatural’ was designed to bring unity and harmony,” Santana said as he accepted the album honor.

“Can you believe this?” the 52-year-old Santana asked as he picked up his fifth award during the Grammys pre-show ceremony.

Accepting his first prize, pop performance by a duo or group with vocal for “Maria Maria,” Santana said his main reason for becoming a musician was to encourage people to listen to the late saxophone great, John Coltrane.

Collecting a later award, Santana said “this is for my Daddy, who taught me the value of music,” and he dedicated another Grammy to his mother. In his speech for pop instrumental for “El Farol,” the Mexican-born Santana said, “This is for all the people who don’t have running water or electricity. If I could do it, you could do it.”

Santana’s triumph was reminiscent of the Grammys two years ago, when rock vets Bob Dylan and John Fogerty won top awards. Neither Dylan nor Fogerty, leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, had won Grammys in their prime years in the 1960s.

“This album is shaping up as the ‘Hotel California’ or the ‘Rumors’ of its time,” Arista’s Davis said backstage after the ceremonies. “It showed such a rich diversity of music — the man transcends every barrier.”

Aside from Santana’s sweep, the 42nd annual Grammy Awards ceremony was chock full of heavy medley perfs and Latin rhythms.

Hosted by Rosie O’Donnell, the CBS telecast was beamed live to the East at 8 p.m. and was tape-delayed in the West.

The rap category did produce a surprise winner when “You Got Me” by the Roots featuring Erykah Badu claimed the rap perf by a duo or group award. The track’s found on the Roots’ “Things Fall Apart” (MCA) album.

Producer of the Year went to Walter Afanasieff for his work with Marc Anthony, Savage Garden, Babyface, Ricky Martin, Kenny G and Barbra Streisand. Walter got a shout-out on the telecast, which must’ve mystified those non-bizzers — and some label execs — who aren’t exactly sure what a record producer actually does.

Elton John won the Grammy Legend award, and NARAS Lifetime Achievement and Trustees Awards went to Harry Belafonte, Woody Guthrie, John Lee Hooker, Mitch Miller, Willie Nelson, Phil Spector and Arista topper Davis, whose label was home to another pair of Grammy winners.

The only slip in Santana’s “Supernatural” tsunami came when he and co-writer K.C. Porter lost instrumental composition for “El Farol” to jazzer Don Sebesky.

Traditional blues album winner B.B. King thanked the big winner from the stage in the pre-telecast, gesturing to “my fan, Carlos Santana.” Sheryl Crow, who won female rock vocal performance for “Sweet Child O’ Mine” from the “Big Daddy” soundtrack (C2/Sony Music Soundtrax), thanked Santana “for not being in this category.”

(Wire services contributed to this report.)


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