Santana's 'Abraxas:' The Sexy Album Cover That Was A Religious Experience

A detail of 'Annunciation' (see the full version below); Carlos Santana circa 1970. Source: Pinterest; BMI/Michael Ochs Archives/GettyImages

What comes to mind when you think of Santana’s Abraxas album -- the cover or the music? The 1970 release contains the classic-rock mainstays "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va," and is considered one of the greatest albums of the era. At the time of its release, Abraxas was hailed as a rock-fusion masterpiece that blended the sounds of Latin America with blues and jazz. And there was no missing that Abraxas cover art -- trippy, risque, and completely suited to the eclectic music, it was a major head trip for shoppers perusing the latest releases at the local record store, assuming it was on display in full.

The art, which shows a naked, black Virgin Mary speaking with an angel riding a conga, among numerous other psychedelic visuals, was controversial from the start. Was it art? Was it pornography? In spite of the squabbling over the album art at the time, it’s now considered one of the most majestic album covers of the 20th century.