“Soul Sacrifice” is an instrumental written and recorded by the American rock group Santana. Identified as one of the highlights of the 1969 Woodstock festival and documentary film, “Soul Sacrifice” features extended guitar passages by Carlos Santana and a percussion section with a solo by drummer Michael Shrieve. It is included as the final track on their 1969 debut album, Santana and on several live and compilation albums.
“Soul Sacrifice” was one of Santana’s earliest compositions. Carlos Santana recalled the group wrote it when bassist David Brown joined. It has been described as “a perfect example of the amalgam of old-world guaguanco rhythms and strictly American licks” and includes “interplay between Santana and [Gregg] Rolie … hammered home by Mike Carabello’s and Jose ‘Chepito’ Area’s congas and the sinuous drums and bass of Mike Shrieve and Brown”.
Before its release on their album, Santana, then a largely unknown band, performed “Soul Sacrifice” as their closing number at Woodstock. “They were the only act to play without a record; it was unparalleled. Santana went from Woodstock to being in global demand almost overnight”. In several interviews, Santana recalled experiencing the effects of psychedelics during the performance, but got it together for the finale. “By the time we got to ‘Soul Sacrifice’, I had come back from a pretty intense journey. Ultimately, I felt we had plugged in to a whole lot of hearts at Woodstock”.
The Woodstock soundtrack album reached number one in the Billboard 200 album chart; helped by the publicity generated by their Woodstock performance of “Soul Sacrifice”, Santana’s debut album reached number four. Several musical artists have recorded renditions, including Mother Earth, Os Paralamas do Sucesso, and Transatlantic.