In the East Room of the White House Sunday night, President Obama hosted the Kennedy Center Honors Reception to recognize five American artists: Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Shirley MacLaine, and Billy Joel. The president gave a brief synopsis of each artist's career, including making light of the drug-induced hallucinations of Carlos Santana as he was introduced to the music world at the 1969 Woodstock music festival:
When a 22-year-old Carlos Santana took the stage at Woodstock, few people outside his hometown of San Francisco knew who he was. And the feeling was mutual. Carlos was in such a -- shall we say -- altered state of mind that he remembers almost nothing about the other performers. (Laughter and applause.) He thought the neck of his guitar was an electric snake. (Laughter.)
The president went on to note that the musician's less than clear frame of mind apparently did not affect his Woodstock performance:
But that did not stop Carlos and his band from whipping the crowd into a such frenzy with a mind-blowing mix of blues, and jazz, and R&B, and Latin music. They’d never heard anything like it. And almost overnight, Carlos Santana became a star.
In a 2012 interview with ETOnline, Santana "expressed his views on drug use, citing the distinction between artificially manufactured drugs and those which are natural and stem from the earth, which he referred to as 'medicine.'"