About the Time Dean Ween Bogarted Carlos Santana’s Guitar…
A man’s guitar, like his car, is sacred, and it’s generally considered very bad form to mess with it or borrow it without asking. But when the opportunity to bogart Carlos Santana‘s axe comes along, it’s very hard to say no — just ask Dean Ween.
Ween, a.k.a. Mickey Melchiondo, recalled his illicit brush with guitar greatness in a recent Facebook post offering his best story from his years as one-half of the venerable alt-rock duo Ween. It all went down during the lengthy tracking for the group’s 2003 album ‘Quebec,’ which unfolded over a period of two years and found the band dealing with numerous setbacks (including the hospitalization of drummer Claude Coleman, who’d been in what Ween described as “a horrific car crash”). But fortune smiled upon the sessions while Ween worked on the song ‘Transdermal Celebration.’ As Ween recalls:
My roadie told me that Carlos Santana’s equipment (including his guitars) had arrived via a trucking company that night at their depot. Carlos was recording an appearance on ‘Good Morning America’ the next morning and his equipment was to be delivered to the set in NYC in a few hours. What needed to be done was immediately clear to me, I had an opportunity to play the solo on ‘Transdermal Celebration’ through Carlos Santana’s amplifier and guitar. I had one shot at it, it meant taking a hard disk recorder to a storage space where all of Carlos’ stuff was sitting in transit. I arrived at 2am. We (very carefully) unpacked his equipment and set up his stage gear and in one take I recorded the guitar solo for ‘Transdermal Celebration’ (the one that appears on the album), playing thru Carlos Santana’s guitar, pedalboard, and amplifier. The whole think took 10 minutes and we were terrified we were going to get caught. A lot of people would have lost their jobs. We got the f— outta there really fast after that. So the solo on ‘Transdermal Celebration’ was played thru all of Sanatana’s s— in what resembled an early morning bank heist or something………. (more here)
Hear Dean Ween’s ‘Transdermal Celebration’ Guitar Solo
Ween offers pictures at the bottom of his post, as well as the hopes that enough time has passed that Santana, who Ween lists as one of his all-time favorite guitarists (“he has aged like a fine wine. Only Neil Young, Prince, and a small handful of others can make that claim as they become members of the AARP”), will be able to laugh about this if word gets back. We have to admit, it’s a pretty amazing story — and if you felt the hand of the angel Metatron reach through and tickle your cerebral cortex while you listened to ‘Transdermal Celebration,’ now you know why.
Update: Dean Ween has offered further detail to this story, focusing on the careful and educated care he gave to Santana’s guitar and gear:
regarding the [Carlos] post, i’d like to add that we handled his equipment as if it were the Mona Lisa. We photographed the way his roadie had his cables wrapped and positioned and put everything back exactly as it was found. The whole process was over as quickly as it happened. Also, the respect that I have for Carlos and the depth, spirituality and stamina of his playing is held by my in the highest regard. I am not just a fan of Carlos, I am believer and follower of everything he has done, and yes that includes the crappy singles. I felt it was important to have this be known, there is no one I hold in a higher regard. Also, I have a lifetime of experience, as did the other person involved, it wasn’t two drunk buffoons manhandling a legend’s gear, the furthest thing from it.
Dean Ween is currently on tour with his new band, the Dean Ween Group. You can watch them drop a pretty awesome Dickey Betts tribute, as well as some terrific David Bowie and Velvet Underground covers below. We also recently passed the one-year anniversary of what just might be 2013’s best piece of music criticism, Melchiondo’s hysterical takedown of 4 Non Blonde’ ‘What’s Up?,’ which he says features “the most obnoxious f—-ing hollering I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Watch the Dean Ween Group Live in Asheville