Gregg Rolie's Biography
James Christopher Monger [allmusic.com]
An American vocalist and keyboardist with an impressive rock pedigree, Gregg Rolie fronted and co-founded the groups Santana, Journey, and Abraxas Pool, the first two of which helped usher him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to his work with those three bands, Rolie helms the Storm and his own Gregg Rolie Band, and plays with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
A native of Seattle, Rolie cut his teeth with a group called William Penn & His Pals while attending high school in Palo Alto, California. After graduating in 1965 he co-founded the Santana Blues Band -- later shortened to Santana -- with budding guitar legend Carlos Santana. The original lead vocalist for the group, Rolie appeared on numerous hit albums and lent his voice and formidable Hammond B-3 skills to well-known songs like ''Evil Ways,'' ''Oye Como Va,'' and Black Magic Woman,'' all of which would go on to become staples of classic rock radio. He performed with the group at Woodstock in 1969, but creative differences with Santana resulted in him leaving the band in 1971.
Two years later he teamed up with prodigious former Santana guitarist Neal Schon and formed Journey. Playing alongside Schon, Aynsley Dunbar, George Tickner, and Ross Valory, Rolie served as the lead vocalist for the band's first two LPs (Journey, 1975 and Look Into the Future, 1976) and played keys on their first six outings, appearing on another slew of future radio hits that included ''Lights,'' ''Wheel in the Sky,'' ''Lovin', Touchin', ''Squeezin','' and ''Any Way You Want It.''
Gregg RolieRolie left the group in 1980 and started down his own path, releasing a pair of well-received solo outings (1985's Gregg Rolie and 1987's Gringo), the former of which included the song ''I Wanna Go Back,'' which became a hit for Eddie Money in 1986. In 1990 he founded the Storm with Journey alums Steve Smith and Ross Valory. They released an eponymous debut in 1991 and found moderate chart success on the strength of the singles ''I've Got a Lot to Learn About Love'' and ''Show Me the Way.'' A second Storm LP, Eye of the Storm, was released in 1996. The following year saw Rolie reunite with former Santana members Schon, Mike Shrieve, Jose ''Chepito'' Areas, Alphonso Johnson, and Mike Carabello under the banner Abraxas Pool and release an eponymous album.
2001's Roots marked the official debut of the newly minted Gregg Rolie Band, which he would perform and record for over the next two decades, releasing the concert LP Rain Dance in 2007, the Five Days EP in 2011, and the full-length studio album Sonic Ranch in 2019. Since 2012, Rolie has toured as a member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. He also appeared on Santana's 24th long-player, 2014's Santana IV, which reunited nearly all of the surviving members of the group's classic '70s lineup.