Journey, Gregg Rollie & Steve Lukather Jams “Black Magic Woman”

Journey, Gregg Rollie & Steve Lukather Jams “Black Magic Woman” | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Kevin Wright / Youtube

Music is really magical. One moment, you hear a song from years ago and thought ‘That’s amazing, I’d love to hear it live.’ And then, decades later, you hear it live but on a different band’s stage.

That’s what happened in a footage captured by a fan earlier this year during one of the concerts of rock band Journey for their Freedom Tour in Moody Center, Austin, Texas.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, they have invited the band’s co-founder Gregg Rolie, who was also their original vocalist and keyboardist, to perform an extended six-song cameo. 

The best part of the night was their rendition of “Black Magic Woman”, in which long-time Toto guitarist Steve Lukather came out to accompany the band. The legendary collaboration was caught by a fan’s phone camera below:

The magic of “Black Magic Woman”

Seeing this performance transported classic rock fans to the past more than 50 years ago before the founding of Journey to a time when Rolie fronted another legendary brand called Santana.

The most famous version of “Black Magic Woman” was sung by Rolie with Santana for the band’s influential second album Abraxas in 1970. At the end of their rework of the song, Santana weaved in Gábor Szabó’s 1966 instrumental “Gypsy Queen”, which the Journey medley above also included.

The original “Black Magic Woman” was a Fleetwood Mac creation an iconic blues composition of its own right. During their original UK-based blues rock inception, Fleetwood Mac was fronted by blues legend Peter Green, who wrote the song based on former girlfriend, “magic mama” Sandra Elsdon.

Both songs created waves of influence for their deeply musical arrangement, but it was Santana’s alteration that scored a hit and spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaking at number four in January 1971.

This success propelled Abraxas to the top of the charts, helping Santana gain a more solid following after their iconic Woodstock 1969 performance.

“Black Magic Woman” has become so linked to Santana that Fleetwood Mac co-founder John McVie stopped performing the song altogether after the 1980s. The next time the band sang it live was during the 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, where co-inductees Santana and Fleetwood Mac conducted a magical performance along with Peter Green.

Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks has since started singing the record with slight changes during their 2018-2019 tour An Evening with Fleetwood Mac.

Santana’s original vocalist Rolie left the band in 1972 due to creative differences with Carlos Santana. He would form a new band in 1973 and brought along the services of ex-Santana guitarist and then-teenage sensation Neal Schon.

The two former bandmates would share the vocal duties until Steve Perry gave the band its iconic voice in 1977. After six studio albums, Rolie would leave the band in 1980 to start a family and tackle some solo projects.

 

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Rolie left on good terms and even suggested Jonathan Cain of The Babys as his replacement on keyboards. Cain would become part of the most commercially successful lineup of Journey that recorded and released hits such as “Open Arms”, “Don’t Stop Believin”, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”, and “Faithfully”.

The Freedom Tour 50 years later

Fifty years later, the band still records and tours under the leadership of Schon. The current lineup consists of Cain, keyboardist/vocalist Jason Derlatka, drummer/vocalist Deen Castronovo, bassist Todd Jensen, and lead vocalist Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singer who caught Schon’s attention in 2007 thanks to his band covering classic songs by Journey, Survivor, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and The Eagles.

 

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Steve Perry, who garnered acclaim as one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” as Journey’s most recognizable voice, left the band in 1998.

The Freedom Tour was Journey’s latest effort, a string of concert dates with Lukather-led TOTO as special guests that would extend until 2024. On their ninth night, which was in Austin, Schon whetted the crowd’s appetite with a tease of an additional guest.

We have an extra special set tonight. So when we go offstage at the end of the show, don’t leave,” Schon announced.

The journey’s leader kept his word and out came Austin native Rolie, who played deep cuts with his former band. He led the band through familiar songs that he recorded with them in the past: Just the Same Way” from 1979’s Evolution, “Of a Lifetime” from 1975’s Journey, and “Feeling That Way” and “Anytime” from 1978’s Infinity.

 

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Schon and Rolie went back further in time with “Black Magic Woman” with Lukather’s help, then finished with “Any Way You Want It.”

“I just wanna say: 50 years?” Rolie told the crowd in amazement. “Fifty years of one band going through changes, but it’s like a runaway freight train that just keeps going with no brakes.”

In a March 2023 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee revealed that being back onstage with Schon brought smiles to them. “And then we went to play and it was stunning; the whole thing was just stunning.”