Even a jam band needs songs. The Santana song “Evil Ways” was not written by the band. It was on their first album titled Santana in 1969. Believe it or not before that Santana was a jam band. Evil Ways was the band’s first Top 10 hit; it peaked at number-nine on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the title track of a 1968 album by Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist Willie Bobo and suggested by Fillmore West promoter Bill Graham. Carlos Santana explains how the song came to his attention not long after it was released.
“Bill Graham. He’s the one that brought it in. He brought a lot of songs for us to do. We were just like a jam band, we didn’t have no endings, no beginnings, no middles [laughs]. We didn’t know anything about choruses or bridge. Y’know, we just jammed. And he said, ‘Well, you know, that’s pretty good, but you guys need some songs.’ So he brought ‘Evil Ways’ in.”