One of Leon Patillo’s earliest musical memories finds him in a classroom where his grammar schoolteacher spotted his gift and told his mother who immediately bought a piano for him to practice on. This insightful move unbeknownst to her, would eventually shape her son’s life and career. Leon became a major trendsetting force in Contemporary Christian Music by bringing funk and soul that was part of his musical DNA. But long before this, he was already embracing his gift—first in youth choir at church, and then blending his passions for Motown and Rock and Roll to create his popular first Bay area band, Leon’s Creation. Driven by Leon’s original songs, powerful vocals, horn and string arrangements, piano and organ skills, the group’s Sly & The Family Stone-influenced fusion, led to a deal with Atlantic Records and opening slots for major emerging bands like Rare Earth and War. He was later hired to do arrangements for artists like The Pointer Sisters, George Clinton/Parliament
Funkadelic, Leo Sayer and Martha and the Vandellas. The success of Leon’s Creation caught the attention of Carlos Santana, who after a private meeting hearing him sing and play organ, hired him to be the next lead vocalist for his megahit group, Santana. This took the singer to a whole new level of success, performing with the legendary guitarist throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Japan in front of tens of thousands
of fans. In addition, during his years with Santana (1973-76) he sang and played keyboards on the albums Borboletta (on which he also wrote Mirage) and Festival, which featured his song Try a Little Harder and co-wrote (with Santana and other members) on Let the Children Play, Reach Up and Let the Music Set You Free.