This was written by Clarence “Sonny” Henry and originally recorded by jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on his 1967 album Bobo Motion. Bobo was Latin Jazz percussionist who was a big influence on Santana and played on some of their tracks in the late ’70s.
Gregg Rolie (who joined Journey in 1973) performs the lead vocals and plays a Hammond organ solo in the middle section. The double-time coda includes a guitar solo performed by Carlos Santana who also does the backing vocals.
This was the first hit for Santana, who released their first album “Santana” shortly after their appearance at the Woodstock festival, which had brought them to notice in the music world.
Santana – Evil Ways at Woodstock, Live in 1969:
On first pressings of both Santana’s debut album and the single release, the songwriting credit was given to Jimmie Zack. Zack was a minor rockabilly artist out of the Midwest who recorded a song with the same title in 1960, credited as Jimmie Zack and the Blues Rockers, however, it was not the same song as recorded by Santana.
Rather surprisingly, Johnny Mathis released a cover of this in 1970. A departure from his usual repertoire of romantic ballads he is known for. With a little less Latin flavor, his version added a little more orchestration.