By Mark Ellis
When a news reporter happened to film a homeless man rummaging through garbage piles in Oakland, California, no one would have guessed the man was the long-lost original drummer for the pioneering Latin-fusion rock band Santana.
“My name is Marcus Malone. At one time I was with the Santana band – the original Santana Blues Band,” Malone told a surprised Stanley Roberts, a reporter for KRON – TV in San Francisco.
The reporter did some research to confirm Malone’s identity, and the fluky encounter eventually led to Santana and Malone reuniting with each other after a 40-year separation.
It seems the two musicians played together until 1969 when Malone was forced to quit due to undisclosed legal and personal issues. It wasn’t long before Santana catapulted into international fame through the Woodstock Music festival.
However, the path looked very different for Malone, the talented drummer once known as “Marcus the Magnificent.”
“You don’t know how afraid I am to let you see me,” Malone told Santana after they reunited, a meeting arranged by KRON’s reporter. “You don’t know how hard I prayed to get to see you,” he told Santana.
“God has a way,” the Grammy-winning guitarist replied. “We cherish you. It’s an honor to be in your presence.”
“His spirit is indomitable,” Santana remarked after their encounter.
Santana came to Christ after his wife of 34-years filed for divorce in 2007, due to infidelity and irreconcilable differences.
He led a tumultuous life from the beginning — abandoned by his father and victimized by a pedophile, he also fell under the influence of a heavy-handed Indian spiritual master named Sri Chinmoy in the 1970s.
Santana told Rolling Stone magazine in 2008 that God’s grace saved him from suicidal thoughts after his divorce. “It got to the point where I really thought that death would be sweeter than pain. But each time I would go light up a candle, and I’m still hearing all this inner stuff, a thousand voices screaming at you, accusing you, like, ‘You’re the lowest, you’re not worthy of anything or anyone around you.’ But then I would look at a picture of Jesus and say, ‘Help me,’ and then, very clearly, inwardly, I would hear this one voice that’s softer and louder than all the others, and it would say, ‘I am sitting next to you. Isn’t that enough?’ Once I heard that voice, something would shift, and I’d be able to find joy again. . . .”
On some occasions, Santana has spoken about his desire to become a minister of the Gospel.
Motivated by Christ’s compassion, Santana wants to help his long-lost bandmate. “I want to offer him a place to stay in an apartment, get him some clothes, and just get him off the street,” he told CNN on December 22nd. “I want to offer my brother Marcus Malone an opportunity to record on the next album with the original band, with Greg Rolie.”