Raul Rekow, who played percussion with the Santana Band almost continuously from 1976-2013, has died. He appeared on 16 Santana studio efforts, including 1977's Top 10 hit Moonflower, 1981's Zebop! (featuring the Top 20 song "Winning"), 1999's 15-times platinum Supernatural and Carlos Santana's most recent solo album, 2014's Corazon.

"We mourn the loss of my brother, Raul Rekow," Santana said, via Facebook. "He was an integral member of Santana for 34 years and the heart beat of the band. His presence on the stage was one of power, grace, collaboration and joy. He redefined what it means to be a conga player."

A tribute photo was also posted to Rekow's personal Facebook page:

The job with Santana was a dream come true to Rekow, who only took up the congas after seeing a pre-fame edition of the band at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1967. "There was a conga drummer named Marcus Malone," Rekow once told Alex Pertout. "He is the one that helped write 'Soul Sacrifice.' He brought 'Jingo,' and he was a wonderful player. When I saw that band, it inspired me to play congas. I was playing French horn at the time, in the school orchestra."

Rekow earlier played in a Bay Area band that specialized in Santana covers called Soul Sacrifice, in the late '60s and early '70s. He then joined the Latin funk-rock band Malo, which featured Carlos Santana's brother Jorge, and was later part of the fusion band Sapo.

That opened the door for a lengthy collaboration with Carlos Santana, which – save for a two-year break in the late '80s – continued until a couple of years ago. Raul Rekow also played on recordings by Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock and Whitney Houston, while releasing solo music and doing instructional film work.

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