Javier Bátiz, the patriarch of R&B in
Mexico , his from-the-soul riffs inspiring countless guitarists, recalls how
he came to teach young Carlos. "His mother and a friend brought him over to
my house and asked me if I could teach him how to play the guitar like me. I
said 'yes,' and the condition I asked was that I teach him how to play the
bass, because I didn't have a bass player in the band. So that was it. He
already was playing the violin and the acoustic mariachi guitar, but I
taught him how to play the Electric Blues guitar."
Of Santana, he has only the kindest of words, even though there appears to
be a rift caused by a misunderstanding. "Santana
is like my little brother – you're never going to change that," says Bátiz.
(The rift is still a bit of a mystery even now to Bátiz. It might have been
spurred in 2002, when Tijuana was to name a downtown street after Santana.
Bátiz was playing in San Jose at the time, but, in jest, he said that if
Santana got a street, he should get a whole neighborhood named after him.
"I'm a comedian," Bátiz explains. But when Bátiz returned to Tijuana , he
says, "all hell was loose" and "a lot was going on without me knowing what
was happening." Many were opposed to Santana's getting the nomenclature -
they claimed there were many more deserving - so ultimately the city settled
for giving Santana the keys to the city, an empty gesture. Santana showed up
for the ceremony, at the end of which he disavowed Bátiz as his mentor.)
Today, Bátiz tours the state of Baja California with a group of young
musicians and his wife Claudia - who primarily sings background choruses.