Aidin Vaziri | Maybe you’ve heard about how he speaks to the ghost of Miles Davis or how he was blitzed out of his mind during Woodstock. There are a lot of legends floating around Carlos Santana. The 67-year-old guitar great attempts to put them in perspective with his new memoir, “The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light.” The biography covers everything from his early life in Tijuana, Mexico, where he struggled with poverty and sexual abuse, to his rise out of the San Francisco music scene in the 1960s and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the ’90s — and then some. Now a newlywed living in Las Vegas, where he will soon kick off another two-year residency at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, Santana talked to us this week ahead of a pair of Bay Area appearances to promote the book.
Q: Was it painful looking back on year early life in Tijuana?
A: It was interesting to walk a path. God gave me an incredible mind, like my mother, to remember details. I chose celestial and selective memory. I wanted to take the high road with everyone who has come into my life. Most companies want you to gossip and trash-talk and sensationalize. This company I’m with believed in what I believed. I wanted to maintain pristine integrity and elegance.
Q: Why did you feel like this was the right time to get your stories out there? Were you feeling nostalgic?
A: No. I wasn’t nostalgic. How can I put this with humility? I’m a master storyteller. I didn’t make the stories up. I revisited them and shared them with people from beginning to end. I learned from my dad and Bill Graham and B.B. King. This was a good time to complete this part of my life and present it and embrace it.
Q: What did you learn about yourself when it was finished?
A: I’m not on a journey. I arrived when I was born. A lot of people get offended by that, but I knew when I was born what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. For those still discovering, it’s OK. But I’m a finder. I’m not a seeker.