Carlos Santana has gone through several different twists and turns in his career. There was the raw, untutored sound of Santana by Santana and Abraxas. Next came the experimental period of the early ’70s, with Caravanserai, Love, Devotion and Surrender, Welcome, and Borboletta.

During the ’80s, however, Carlos went through a “pop/rock” phase that produced such unlikely hits as “Open Invitation” and “Well All Right” (sung by Greg Walker) — songs that didn’t have much of a Latin flavor, or much else about the “typical” Santana sound. It was during this time, after vocalist Greg Walker left the band in the late ’70s, that Santana joined forces with Scottish vocalist Alex Ligertwood — a relationship that endured for 16 years and a dozen albums.

Initially appearing on the Marathon album, Ligertwood lent his distinctive, powerful vocal style to an entire phase of Santana’s career. The first radio-friendly song the two crafted was “All I Ever Wanted.” But they really hit their stride with “Winning,” the hit song off the next album, 1981’s Zebop!

Winning, written by leading song-smith Russ Ballard, placed well on the charts in 1981, including #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rockchart.  Although it didn’t contain many of the classic Santana elements (prominent Latin percussion, extended instrumental passages, etc.), it was a well-crafted song that sat comfortably in the era.

Showing Ligertwood’s soaring tenor voice to best advantage, Winning is at heart a pop song with subtle blues undertones. The role of the guitar is somewhat subsidiary in this song, but the ’80s sound (complete with clean, Telecaster tone and chorus) is delivered adequately, and the producer wisely allowed Alex’s voice to carry the lead.

Carlos Santana and Alex Ligertwood had a lasting musical partnership, and co-wrote, performed and recorded dozens of songs together. Never again, however, did they enjoy the chart success that Winning achieved.

Winning Lyrics

Zebop album
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One day I was on the ground
When I needed a hand
Then it couldn’t be found
I was so far down that I couldn’t get up
You know and one day I was one of life’s losers
Even my friends were my accusers
In my head I lost before I begun
I had a dream but it turned to dust
And what I thought was love
That must have been lust
I was living in style
When the walls fell in
And when I played my hand
I looked like a joker
Turn around fate must have woke her
Cause lady luck she was waiting outside the door
I’m winning
I’m winning
I’m winning
I’m winning and I don’t intend on losing again
Too bad it belonged to me
It was the wrong time and not meant to be
It took a long time and I’m new born now
I can see the day that I bleed for
If it’s agreed that there’s a need
To play the game and to win again

Winning Chords

Intro 1
D
Intro 2 (fast changes)
D – A/D – Em/D – A/D – D
D – A/D – Em/D – A/D – D
D/B – A/B – Em/B – A/B – D/B
D/A – A – Em/A – A – D/A
G – A – D
Verse 1
D – D – D/C – G
D – A
D – D – D/C – G
D – A – G – A – D
Chorus
D – Bm – D – Bm
Em – A – G – A – D
Verse 2
D – D – D/C – G
D – A – G – A – D
Outro
E – C#m – E – C#m
F#m – A – B
(repeat)

Go To Santana Winning Video