Birthplace: Seattle, WA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Co-Founder of Santana and Journey
Gregg Rolie first came to the public attention as a founding member of The Santana Blues Band, eventually just called Santana, a project created with guitarist Carlos Santana (hence the name) after the two met at a jam session in San Francisco. The Latin-influenced rock doled out by the band attracted an immediate following, and by the time Gregg and Carlos performed at the Woodstock festival in 1969 they had established themselves internationally. Rolie was a significant contributor up through the first four Santana releases, acting as a combination of writer, producer, keyboardist and lead vocalist -- it is in fact his voice you hear on Santana's most recognizable song, 1970's Black Magic Woman. By the release of Caravanserai in 1972, Rolie decided that the band was drifting into musical territory that didn't interest him, and he turned in his resignation soon afterwards.
After Santana, Rolie's intention was to leave the music industry entirely and open a restaurant with his father in his home town of Seattle; that plan was scuttled by an offer from his former road manager to put together another band. With that new band, eventually named Journey, Rolie again served multiple roles on both sides of the mixing board, writing and producing in addition to peforming. It was originally created just to function as studio backing for visiting musicians, but before long Journey evolved into a performing unit in its own right and became one of the leading rock acts of the early 80s.
For the first three Journey releases, the band concentrated on instrumental compositions, with Rolie providing only occasional vocal interludes. Pressure to create more radio-friendly material inevitably forced him to seek a full-time singer, and in 1978, following a brief period with another candidate, Steve Perry was enlisted in time to contribute to the fourth Journey release, Infinity. The record proved to be their first substantially popular offering, with three of its songs going on to become hit singles and the band itself graduating from opening to headlining act status. Three years and three albums down the road, however, Rolie was fed up with the life of endless touring and once again left behind a band he had helped raise from obscurity to international success.
The remainder of the 1980s saw Rolie contributing once again to some of Santana's recordings, as well as releasing a pair of solo albums. In 1990 he formed The Storm with two of his former Journey bandmates, and then moved on to form Abraxas Pool six years later with five of the original members of Santana. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the rest of Santana in 1998, and continues to be active as a solo performer.
Santana Vocalist/Keyboardist (1967-72)
Journey Vocalist/Keyboardist (1972-81)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Soul to Soul (18-Aug-1971) · Himself
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