Raul Matthew Rekow was born on June 10, 1954, in San Francisco, California. The family name Rekow stems from his German grandfather, who came from Coburg, Germany. As a youngster, Raul started playing trumpet and french horn, but eventually preferred playing drums. In 1967, he saw a performance of the Santana Blues Band at Cow Palace in San Francisco. This show and the sound of Santana inspired him to switch to the congas. From then on, it was his dream to play with Santana.
At the age of 15, he covered Santana songs with a band named Soul Sacrifice. In 1970, he joined Malo, the band of Carlos Santana’s younger brother Jorge. From 1972 until 1976, Rekow played with Sapo, another Latin band in the thriving Bay Area music scene.
In 1976, Raul Rekow was called to participate in the recording sessions for the album Festivál by Santana, to replace Armando Peraza who had taken ill. With the exception of an interruption of two years (1988/89), he then stayed a permanent member of Santana until the summer of 2013. Armando Peraza, who had already been a highly recognized percussionist in Latin Jazz before joining Santana, became mentor and teacher for Rekow in the Santana band until the late 1990s.
During his tenure with Santana, he found occasions to collaborate with other musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Tremaine Hawkins and Herbie Hancock. In 1985, he participated in a project named “R.O.A.R.”, together with Armando Peraza and other band members of Santana. In 1999, Rekow was part of the highly successful Santana album Supernatural, which was recognized with eleven Grammy Awards.
Raul Rekow was recognized as a highly acclaimed conga player worldwide and developed a signature series of congas and bongos, for the instrument manufacturer Latin Percussion.