During his tenure with Santana in the 1970’s, Tom Coster made his mark as a keyboard player and composer of versatility and power. Detroit-born and San Francisco-raised, Coster played piano and accordion as a youth, continuing his studies through college and a productive five-year stint as a musician in the Air Force. He then invaded the Bay Area club scene, soon acquiring his reputation as a standout keyboard player. After successful tenures with the rock group The Loading Zone and jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo, Coster was asked by Carlos Santana in 1972 to bring more jazz fusion influence to that phenomenally successful band.
This historic alliance produced six classic Santana albums — "Caravanserai," "Welcome," "Lotus," "Borboletta," "Amigos," and "Moonflower." Coster also performed on three Devadip Carlos Santana solo albums (including "Illuminations" with Alice Coltrane). "Europa," "Flor D’Luna" and "Dance Sister Dance" are three timeless examples of Coster’s contributions to these projects.
After amicably parting with Santana, Coster joined forces with drummer Billy Cobham’s band for a brief stint before taking a sabbatical from the music business to spend more time with his family. He re- entered the recording world with two critically acclaimed solo albums, "T.C." and "Ivory Expeditions." Still sought after, these albums feature performances by guitarist Joaquin Lievano, Randy Jackson on bass and Steve Smith on drums. Additionally, "Ivory Expeditions" marked the first recorded collaboration with Tom’s son, Tom Coster Jr.
Coster rejoined Santana in 1983 and 1986, contributing to the "Freedom" album as well as the 20-year anthology, "Viva Santana." When former Journey drummer Steve Smith formed the progressive fusion band Vital Information, Tom was drafted to play keyboards.
(So ends the "official" Tom Coster biography. Tom adds the following notes and updates to his storied career.)
Since Steve Smith was off and on again with Journey, there was no real touring schedule for “Vital” and I wanted to pursue my own recording career, so after leaving Fantasy Records, I got a deal with “Headfirst Records” and began a new recording career. Their intention was of course to sell records and my two projects with them was NAC (easy listening) and actually did quite well. Both CD’s charted in the top 10 on the Contemporary Jazz Billboard Chart. The two projects were “Did Jah’ Miss Me” and “From Me To You” which were eventually picked up by JVC.
My fusion fans fell left out,as I knew they would be, and I felt somewhat depressed about the whole industry since radio stations weren't playing any fusion (and they still don’t, for that matter!).