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Carlos Santana sought help from God for famed Woodstock performance

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Gary Miller/Getty Images

August 15 marked 54 years since the famed Woodstock Music & Arts festival, and while he played the fest, Carlos Santana doesn’t remember much of it. That’s because he took what he calls “medicine” from Jerry Garcia, not realizing he was about to take the stage.

“He had a beautiful smile when he gave it to me,” Santana tells ABC Audio. “So I wasn’t afraid until I took it. And then I realized that, like, all of a sudden, everything is like liquid and colors.” And it quickly became a problem. Santana explains, “Then there’s a voice that says, ‘You got to go on now, otherwise you won’t play at all’ and I was like, ‘Uh-oh.’”

But Santana says he was able to get through the set thanks to a little help from a higher being.  

He shares, “I didn’t know if I was able to articulate or make any sense, so I just said with conviction, ‘God, please help me. I know you’re here. I want to trust that you’re going to keep me in time and in tune. And I’m gonna trust that my muscles and my fingers have enough memory to remember what I need to do with these songs.'” 

Santana’s set on the second day of the festival wound up introducing him to an international audience. He went on to superstardom, selling millions of records throughout his career. Among his many honors, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Fans can hear this and many other stories about Santana in a new documentary, Carlos, which is set for release in September.

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