The Woodstock Episodes
Santana's superstar drummer at Woodstock,
Member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
Composer, Drummer & Podcaster
“I owe Michael a lot; He's the one who turned me onto John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I just wanted to play blues until Michael came. He opened my eyes and my ears and my heart to a lot of things. Some drummers only have chops, but Michael Shrieve has vision.”
Photo © Steve Korn
We have elected to include Michael Shrieve's excellent interview in our ongoing, intermittent series, "The Woodstock Episodes." Michael would undoubtedly groan at that -- his entire incredible career as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Drummer, composer & performer of some really remarkable new music -- has been overshadowed by that single 20-minute drum solo with Santana at Woodstock, when he was just 21 years old. That was more than half a century ago, and Michael has come a long, long way from that world-shaking moment.
His journey -- from that furious, fabulous, rollicking debut at Woodstock to his soul-soothing new album, "Drums of Compassion" -- is inspiring and instructive. We actually hear the first part of Michael's interview in Episode 001 -- the Road to Woodstock -- then pick him up in Episode 009, which reveals how far he has come since then, including an exclusive sneak peek at some tracks from his latest album, which is miles from Woodstock and a whole new kind of beautiful.
Try as he might, there is no escaping the fact that Michael is best known best for his drum solo with Santana in front of half a million people just weeks after his 20th birthday. He talks about how he ended up there in the first part of his interview . It's quite a tale.
Michael shares how that single moment defined him in millions of minds, and overshadowed his evolution as a musician for the next 50 years.
But as host Julian Simmons discovers — Michael is a prolific creator of some stunning new music, and wegive you a sneak peek at his new unreleased album, “Drums of Compassion.”
Photo © Jason Laure Michael Shrieve, just turned twenty, delivering his mind-blowing solo in "Soul Sacrifice" with Santana at Woodstock 1969.
"Drums of Compassion" reflects Michael's growth and evolution over the past 50 years, shifting from the kind of explosive drumbeat of his Santana debut to something much more introspective. The album combines African and Native American influences, and brings together a remarkable group of world-renowned musicians, including Babatunde Olatunji, credited with bringing in African music to the U.S.
Photo © Todd Hobert Michael performing with the newly reunited, Original Santana band at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas in March of 2016.
"Drums of Compassion" is perhaps the most important and personal project of Michael's post-Santana career, an album he has worked on for over 20 years. It's also perhaps the perfect piece for our time, and Our Generation. As he tells Julian, "That record came about by me coming home at two in the morning after listening to groups, in clubs and asking myself the question, as a drummer, what kind of music would you like to make that you would listen to at this hour of the morning?"
In many ways, Michael’s life follows the archetypal track of many of us, from wild youth to our current, more mellow stage of life. His lively conversation with Julian brings it all back. But he also delivers a potent dose of inspiration for many of us who may be forced by age to give up things we love doing.
Michael hasn’t stopped creating in spite of the inevitable aches and pains that prevent him from pummeling the drums like he did at Woodstock. Far from giving up, he’s moving on. His new music is a stunning reminder that some things DO get better with age.
Over the course of his eminent career, Michael Shrieve has written, produced and played on albums that have sold millions of copies worldwide. As the original drummer for Santana, Michael – at age nineteen – was the youngest performer at Woodstock. He helped create the first eight albums of this seminal group, and was on the forefront of shaping a new musical era.
Michael is respected world-wide for his adventurous experimentation with the most creative and masterful musicians. No other drummer has collaborated with such longevity and sophistication alongside artists in such diverse genres as rock, jazz, electronic, DJ and world music. He is well recognized for his groundbreaking adoption of electronic percussion when it was a new medium in the 1970s.
Michael’s recording credits include the masters of popular and avant-garde music – Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Pete Townsend, Steve Winwood, Police guitarist Andy Summers, film composer Mark Isham, and such musical luminaries as John Mclaughlin, Stomu Yamash’ta, Klaus Schulze, Freddie Hubbard, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell, Zakir Hussain, Airto Moriera and Amon Tobin. Many notable publications have cited Michael’s outstanding work: The New York Times, Downbeat, Billboard, Modern Drummer, Musician, Drum, Paris Match, Melody Maker, and Life Magazine.
Michael Shrieve also composes music for film and television. He worked with the director Paul Mazursky on the film, “The Tempest,” and scored music for Curtis Hanson’s “The Bedroom Window,” as well as numerous television movies and shows. In 2002 Michael wrote and produced the song, “Aye Aye Aye,” with Carlos Santana, which appeared on the album, “Shaman.” Rolling Stone magazine acknowledged it as one of the songs that “leaps out of the album, joyful and organic without calculation,” and achieves “globe-spanning euphoria.”
Michael continues to strive for innovative approaches to percussion-based music, and records with both renowned and emerging artists (Skerik, Jack DeJohnette, Zakir Hussain, Reggie Watts), in addition to his own band, Tangletown.
Michael is the past President of the Pacific Northwest Branch of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), and is currently writing the memoirs of jazz drumming legend Elvin Jones. He serves as Musical Director for Seattle Theater Group’s “More Music @ The Moore,” a program that highlights gifted young musicians from Seattle’s various cultural groups.
Michael Shrieve currently lives in Seattle and Los Angeles. He continues to work on projects that are both groundbreaking and soul-filled. In 2006 he will release a musical collaboration entitled, “Drums of Compassion,” for which he is composer, producer and drummer. It brings together some of the world’s most respected percussionists and musicians: Obo Addy, African Drums; Jack De Johnette, Drums; Jeff Greinke, Keyboards, Sound Sculpture and Composer; Zakir Hussain, Tabla; Airto Moriera, Brazilian Percussion; BC Smith, Orchestral Arrangements; James Whiton, Bass.
Michael Shrieve was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2005, Michael received the Guitar Center’s first annual “Lifetime Achievement Award.”