In an interview with Noise11.com, Neal said, “I’ve reconnected with Carlos Santana now and we have been talking about doing something together again. We’ve talked a lot on the telephone and I hooked up with him before Christmas. You never know what’s going to happen. Life is full of surprises. It’s very exciting.”
Neal was with Santana for the albums Santana III (1971) and Caravanserai (1972). “Yeah, just two records. I joined the band in 1970 through ’72,” he said.
Neal Schon was a 15-year old kid when he joined Santana and he had the choice of playing in Santana with Carlos Santana or in Derek and the Dominoes with Eric Clapton. “I played with Derek and the Dominoes on stage in Berkeley in San Francisco. Eric came in the studio, Santana was in the studio, we were jamming,” he said. “I got to jam with Clapton that night. I was astounded he was in the room. He was one of my biggest idols. I was very young. I was 15. It was cool”.
“The next day I came back to the studio to jam with the Santana band and Eric left a message for me and asked me to come over to Berkeley Community Theater. I didn’t have a licence. I didn’t have a car. I talked somebody into driving me over there at the last minute. They got me there 10 minutes before he was to go on. I walked in backstage. I had my guitar and he told me that we’d play seven songs. He would then introduce me and I would stay on stage and keep playing”.
“Afterwards, he asked me back to the hotel. He asked me who I listened to and I told him mainly him. I learned to play by listening to Wheels of Fire and he didn’t believe me. He had a guitar there and I played note for note Crossroads. I knew every note. He asked me if I would move to London but it was crazy. I was so young and still living at home with my folks”.
Although the Derek and the Dominoes job didn’t happen, Santana did. “I had been hanging out with Greg Rolie and Carlos Santana for a good three and a half months,” he said. “I felt in my gut they were going to ask me to join and the next day Eric asked me to join and they asked me to join so I chose to go with the Santana band”.
And the rest was history.