Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (6:32)

Cover of Greatest Hits

From Greatest Hits and 65 other releases

Santana’s version, recorded in 1970, is a medley with Gábor Szabó’s 1966 “Gypsy Queen”, a mix of jazz, Hungarian folk and Latin rhythms. The song became one of Santana’s staples and their biggest hit. Abraxas reached #1 on the charts and hit quadruple platinum in 1970, partially thanks to “Black Magic Woman.” The Santana version is also used as a cover in the music/rhythm video games such as Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: On Tour.

While the song follows the same general structure of Peter Green’s version, also set in common time, in D Dorian and using the same chord progression, melody and lyrics, it is considerably different. A curious blend of blues, rock, jazz, 3/2 afro-Cuban son clave, and “Latin” polyrhythms, Santana’s arrangement added conga, timbales and other percussion, in addition to organ and piano, to make complex polyrhythms that give the song a “voodoo” feel distinct from the original.

The introduction of the song, which was adapted from Szabo’s “Gypsy Queen”, consists of simple hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides, before moving into the introduction solo of “Black Magic Woman.” After the introduction solo, which follows the same chord progression as the verse, the song moves into an eight-bar piano solo on D minor, and proceeds to two verses sung by keyboardist Gregg Rolie. Two verses of guitar solo follow the two sung verses, which is then succeeded by another verse, before moving into a modified version of the “Gypsy Queen” section from the beginning of the song, to end the piece.


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