Santana's Grammy Triumph Hailed By Fellow Musicians

Sheryl Crow among artists who see guitarist's win as validation of seasoned artistry, staying power.

LOS ANGELES — Carlos Santana's record-tying victory at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards on Wednesday was a sweet one for many of his fellow musicians, who hailed it as triumph of seasoned artistry over ephemeral pop.

"It's fabulous, especially for artists who are halfway through it as I am," said 39-year-old rocker Melissa Etheridge at a post-Grammy party held by BMG. "It's nice to see that down the line you can still come up with something new and be rewarded for it."

Sheryl Crow agreed, calling Santana an inspiration.

"It gives me the greatest hope that I'll be doing it that long ... and that I'll be that prolific and inspired at his age," said the 38-year-old Crow, who took home the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for her cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine."

Santana, 52, tied Michael Jackson's 1983 record for the most Grammy Awards won in a single night. The veteran rock guitarist and his namesake band nabbed eight awards, including the night's two top honors — Album of the Year for the star-packed, multiplatinum Supernatural and Record of the Year for the single "Smooth" (RealAudio excerpt). That song's writers, Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas and Itaal Shur, also nabbed the Song of the Year songwriting prize.

Santana and his band had won only one Grammy in his career before Wednesday night — in 1989, Santana's solo album Blues for Salvador won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Supernatural is Santana's first #1 album in nearly 30 years; the

last, Santana III, dates back to 1971.

Arista Records chief Clive Davis, who co-produced Supernatural, said that Santana has proved that even in today's hit-driven pop world, a veteran artist can come out on top.

"Anytime an artist breaks through, they wonder how long can it last," Davis said as he stood next to Santana backstage. "This album shows that if your music remains great, not only can your career last but it can soar to phenomenal heights."

Several of Santana's collaborators on Supernatural won Grammys along with him, but they took little credit.

"Just to be mentioned in the same breath with Santana is a huge honor,"

said Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas, who sang on "Smooth" in addition to

co-writing the number. Thomas said Santana was "everything you think he

is."

"Winning a Grammy with [Santana], it's like you're a part of history now," said 30-year-old rapper Everlast (born Eric Schrody), who wrote and sang on Supernatural's "Put Your Lights On," which won Best Rock Duo/Group With Vocal. "This guy's on the level of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. There are not many guitar heroes who are still doing what he's doing. I knew who he was when I was this high."

Some said that Santana's victory shows that instrumental prowess is

regaining respect. "American music is coming back to realize musicianship is important," Roots bassist Leon Hubbard said backstage, after the Roots won for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. "People are embracing Santana like they never heard of him — it's just nice that Madison Avenue is able to sell it again."

"Smooth" co-writer Shur said that "people are tired of music that's not

played with real instruments. I think it's time. It's good music."

Piano man Billy Joel said that Santana has been "scrubbing along a long time and now he's in a nice toasty place."