Born in Spanish Harlem in New York City Neftali Santiago grew up an Army Brat. After moving off base for the first time in 1968. The Santiago family moved to South New Jersey. Neftali's older brother Chris had a band that practiced at the Santiago's home. Neftali was already interested in drumming before moving to New Jersey. Chris's drummer use to leave his drums at the house and Neftali couldn't resist beating on them. Instead of beating on them he just started playing drums without any lessons. At 15 years of age he turned professional. Now in high school with his Dad in Viet Nam Neftali started exploring his new world of musical possibilities. Philly was only 15 minutes away just across the Ben Franklyn bridge. Neftali joined bands performing behind recording artists such as Barbara Mason and then he went on to what is known as "The Chitlin Circuit". That's where Neftali learned DYNAMICS and TIMING. He also joined a local band called "Brother Love" a Philly playing review band. Neftali went on to start his own local cover band he called,"The Reeves" named after George Reeves of Superman fame.
They duplicated everyone from Chicago to Buddy Miles to Jimi Hendrix to Santana to the Cream, mutli genre. In 1969 The Reeves went on a Battle Of The Bands winning streak. The Reeves never lost a contest and even went on Ted Macs Armature Hour. Little did Neftali know how close he was to filling a dream, being the drummer of one of his favorite bands, "Mandrill". It was early 1972 when "Mandrill Is" came out the bands second album. Neftali was in love with Mandrill Is. He was just turning 19 when he was given an opportunity to go back stage at the Spectrum in Philly where Mandrill headlined a show with "War" and "Bobby Womack". Neftali made up his mind he was going to became the last piece that the band needed to be able to flow with all genres of music. Neftali became the legendary drummer of "Mandrill" at the end of 1972. He is featured on the bands biggest hits such as Fencewalk, Mango Meat, Hang Loose, House Of Wood, Two Sisters Of Mystery where he debute his first song to the band and also sang lead vocal on his track. Neftali along with his band mates Mandrill went on to headline at, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, And Central Park, in his home town New York. He has also toured the world three times with various artists.Neftali is very active recording, performing, and producing with 2 platinum and 4 Gold hits for his writing. Neftali has also created the first "All Animal" song ever heard! Neftali will start to release his "Funkadrill Lost Treasure Collection" starting on September 4th 2015.
FUNKADRILL The lost treasures collection released in 2015.
"You Say Keep It Gangsta"
Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonder, Neftali Santiago
Butch Cassidy and Sharissa
Pay For P...
Snoop Dogg, Big Pimpin, Neftali Santiago
By The Time I Get To Arizona
written by James Henry Boxley III, Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, Gary J. Rinaldo, Neftali Santiago
Public Enemy sampled Neftali’s song "Two Sisters Of Mystery" to use on their song “By The Time I Get To Arizona”. The song created a lot of media attention.
The song dealt with Martin Luther Kings' birthday not being celebrated in the state of Arizona. It went on to become a platinum seller and spurred a media field day. The song sold over one million copies.
Tony Hawk 4
In 2003 Activision released "Tony Hawk 4" video game which features "By The Time I Get To Arizona".
Sound Barrier was the first black heavy metal band to be signed to a major label. The label was MCA Records. Neftali produced a four-song demo on the band which landed the deal. The demo was a blend of funk, rock, and new wave; but when they got to MCA the music was turned to heavy metal. The band asked Neftali to use a song he wrote entitled: Rock On The Wild Side. It was used for their first single and video. The album led to a major tour opening for the rock group Van Halen. Spacey T, the original guitar player for the band, is now with "Fishbone."
The group formally known as "The Ghetto Fighters" performed background vocals on Jimi Hendrix's lps Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge, and War Heroes. " The twins are now known as the Aleems: Taharqa and Tunde Ra Aleem. They were"US", Polydor single, Ostrich and in 1977 they became "Prana People". Neftali performed ontheir intire lp . Al Brown producer.
Marino, (vocalist/artist) put together an all-star band for his first solo Lp. Neftali Santiago-drums, Angel Figuroa-percussion, PeeWee Hill- bass, Kris Kello-keys, vocals, Conley Abrams-keyboards, Val McCallum-guitar, Charles Green-sax, Karen Briggs-violin, Donna Simon, Valentino, & Kimberly Abrams-vocals.
The Acid Jazz
The Acid Jazz label contracted Neftali to perform on their entire stable of artists. The company folded before releasing four great CD's, sad but true.
In the early 70's young Neftali backed soul acts such as: The Manhattans, Emotions, Intruders, Barbara Mason, The Delfonics, etc. The acts toured what was called the “Chitin circuit.” Neftali would back the acts when they came to Philadelphia where one band played for all the acts.
Ted Mac Amateur Hour (1969)
Neftali put his first band together. He named it The Reeves after Superman. They were a 7-piece band including 3 horns, a bass, a guitar, drums, and keyboards. The band was managed by Dolores Santiago, Neftali's mom. They rehearsed at the Santiago's in order to prepare for gigs around town, and in nearby teen clubs. Dolores set up an audition with the tv show Ted Mac. For those who don’t recognize Ted Mac, he was the (OG) “Americas Got Talent”. We had to drive from South Jersey to New York City to appear on the show. Our van broke down on the first attempt and we had to re-schedule.
NEFTALI SONGWRITING CREDITS
Neftali has been blessed to perform or share the stage with:
Black Eyed Peas
Sly & the Family Stone
Earth Wind & Fire
Little River Band
Average White Band
Graham Central Station
Betty Davis Band
Kool & The Gang
Seals & Croft
US / Prana
Donald Bird & The Blackbirds
Gill Scott Heron
Ike & Tina Turner
LA Latin All Stars
The New World Orchestra
Godspell Orchestra LA cast
Xandro & Su Punto
Ike Turner and the Kings Of Rhythm