Anyone remember Canned Heat? Canned Heat is an American blues/boogie rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1965. Canned Heat was founded by blues historians and record collectors Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite. Hite took the name Canned Heat from a 1928 recording by Tommy Johnson.
They were joined by Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine, another ardent record collector who was a former member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. Rounding out the band in 1967 were Larry “The Mole” Taylor on bass, an experienced session musician who had played with Jerry Lee Lewis and The Monkees and Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums who had played in two of the biggest Latin American bands, Los Sinners and Los Hooligans.
The group has been noted for its own interpretations of blues material as well as for efforts to promote the interest in this type of music and its original artists. The band’s biggest hits were ‘On The Road Again’ in 1968, ‘Let’s Work Together’ in 1970 and ‘Going Up The Country’ in 1969. These became rock anthems throughout the world with ‘Going Up The Country’ being adopted as the unofficial theme song for the film Woodstock and the “Woodstock Generation.”
Founders Alan Wilson and Bob Hite passed away in 1970 and 1981, respectively. Henry Vestine died in 1997, and Robert Lucas in 2008.
From 2014, Canned Heat has been John Paulus, Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra, Larry “The Mole” Taylor, Harvey “The Snake” Mandel and Dale “Kingfish” Spalding. Yes, all those nicknames does make them sound like the cast of The Sopranos, but it’s straight off their documentation – who am I to change it?
I know that this is starting to sound like “the axe that killed Anne Boleyn” (it’s only had three handles and two heads since then), but the Canned Heat spirit, and the sound live on. Now, more than 50 years later and with thirty-eight albums to their credit, Canned Heat is still going strong.
Fito’s book, Living The Blues tells the complete and outrageous Canned Heat story of “Music, Drugs, Death, Sex and Survival” along with over 100 captivating pictures from their past. A screenplay, that somewhat mirrors the book, is currently being written and efforts are underway to develop this into a feature length movie.
Among the Heat’s latest projects are a CD series entitled The Boogie House Tapes, Volumes I, II and III put together by Fito and Dr. Boogie, aka Walter de Paduwa, Canned Heat’s biggest fan and historian.
They and/or their music have been featured on television (In Concert, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Midnight Special, Playboy After Dark, etc.), and in films (“Woodstock,” “Big Fish,” and “Forrest Gump”).
So, why the column about Canned Heat? They are returning to the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival as part of their 50th anniversary tour. Mark the diary for the Cup weekend, and get your tickets for the Festival, they will be going fast!
Written by John (Dr John) Lamp / Proudly presented by the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club