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Carlos Santana Dropped to One Knee to Propose to Drummer after Divorce from 'Guiding Light' Wife of 34 Years

Oyin Balogun
Jul 10, 2022
11:00 P.M.
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Carlos Santana's first wife changed his life for the better and saved his business, but he still cheated on her, which led to their divorce. He later married his drummer, and the pair have remained together ever since.


Carlos Santana's first wife was Deborah King, the daughter of a blues singer named Saunders King. She is a Smithsonian Institution trustee, an author, a lover of philanthropy, and a film producer who has contributed to creating five short documentaries focused on nonprofit organizations and their efforts in Africa.

When she married Santana in 1973, he benefited greatly from that. Their relationship was one of the longest in entertainment, but according to Deborah, being with him was not easy.

Carlos Santana at the FivePoint Amphitheater on June 20, 2019 in Irvine, California | Source: Getty Images

Carlos Santana at the FivePoint Amphitheater on June 20, 2019 in Irvine, California | Source: Getty Images


In 2005, she released a memoir detailing his unfaithfulness, and the pair went their separate ways two years later. In 2000, Santana was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, and in the interview, he revealed his wife's best qualities.

He referred to her as his "guiding light" on all things spiritual, financial, and emotional. Also, he confessed that had she not helped him re-organize his business life in 1994, he would likely have ended up homeless and destitute.

Santana called himself the "space cadet" during the interview, and she was his trainer, teaching him to get entirely involved in their children's lives and do random chores like driving the carpool or taking out the trash while he was not on tour.


It was a great match, soiled only by Santana's cheating. After she released her tell-all memoir in 2005, he sought her forgiveness by saying sorry and trying to be a better man. He said:

"I sincerely apologized to her and to my kids when I wasn't in my right mind and did something hurtful. It (the memoir) has helped me become more humble and to try harder to be the man she wants me to be."



When Deborah filed for divorce, she cited irreconcilable differences as her reason for wanting an end to their union of more than three decades. The revelation took the music world by storm as nobody had expected they would ever go their separate ways.

Talking about his mistakes following the publication of her memoir, the guitarist admitted that he truly apologized to Deborah and their three kids. He also said that the messy affair taught him to be humble and work even harder toward becoming the man she wanted him to be.



His remorse was not enough to save their marriage, but Santana proposed to Cindy Blackman years after they went their separate ways. She was his drummer, and at the time of the proposal, he was 62 years old.

Blackman's roots can be traced back to New York, where she started as a busker before going on tour with performers like Joss Stone, Buckethead, and Lenny Kravitz.

Cindy Blackman performs at Pine Knob Music Theatre on July 05, 2022, in Clarkston.  | Source: Getty Images

Cindy Blackman performs at Pine Knob Music Theatre on July 05, 2022, in Clarkston. | Source: Getty Images


She initially met Santana at a European festival while on tour with Kravitz. Still, nothing happened between them until the summer of 2010, when she acted as a temporary replacement for his regular drummer.

They quickly recognized the spark they shared, and the pair got engaged months later. He said about finding love once more:

"Cindy and I are blessed to have found each other ... Being in love is a gift from the universe, and the spirit and vibrations that come with it are infinitely powerful."


They bonded over music, so it was only fitting for the actor to propose while doing something they both enjoyed. His proposal happened while they were playing a show in Tinley Park, III., just outside Chicago.

They had been four songs into the concert, and Blackman had just stunned the audience with a drum solo when he suddenly went on one knee and asked that she marry him. She did not see it coming, but her answer was a yes, after which they exchanged a kiss to seal the deal to the crowd cheering.

Cindy Blackman Santana at the Santana and The Isley Brothers Media Event on August 1, 2017 in New York.  | Source: Getty Images

Cindy Blackman Santana at the Santana and The Isley Brothers Media Event on August 1, 2017 in New York. | Source: Getty Images


The lovebirds got married in December 2010, but that day, the weather tried to ruin things with a rain shower. It was not enough, and they arranged to hold the ceremony indoors at the Ritz-Carlton on Maui.

Blackman claimed that the rain signified "mercy," and for her, it could not have been more beautiful, while Santana admitted that the rain had not mattered because regardless of where the ceremony happened, "the sun was shining."


Blackman would later admit that the best part of the ceremony was when they got to wash their hands in a bowl of rainwater — something Santana's son with Deborah suggested.

For her, it meant they had cleansed themselves of old things and things to come leaving only both of them in the present. Another symbolic activity they participated in was the releasing of doves, and according to Blackman, it represented them releasing their "purity and love into the cosmos."


After the ceremony, they went on their honeymoon in Hawaii, after which they returned to their lives as musicians. Speaking about their bond, he said:

"Cindy is a match with everything that I am, from fire of passion to vulnerability. Everything tastes better when you share it with your soul mate."



On Tuesday, July 5, Santana scared his fans when he suddenly fainted onstage while playing a show at Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkson, Michigan. He had been 20 minutes into his performance when he sat on the drum riser and fell backward.

Medical personnel rushed on stage, and he was quickly treated. As he was wheeled off the stage, he was seen giving his fans a wave of reassurance as if to tell them all was well.


A statement from his rep claimed that he had been overwhelmed by "heat exhaustion and dehydration." He was taken to McLaren Clarkson hospital's emergency department for observation, and later that day, his manager, Michael Vrionis, stated that he was in stable condition.

Vrionis also stated that the concert the music legend was to perform the following day at the Pavillion at Star Lake in Burgettstown, PA, was to be postponed.

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