Canned Heat – v2 – Guest Blog!

By Guest Blogger, Ian Weitzel.

A brief explanation may be necessary here, as observant followers may have noticed that this unintentional ‘blog’ arrived as a comment to the most recent Knumptytravel post. It was, quite frankly, too good to languish as a footnote, so welcome, Ian, as the very first Guest Blogger on the Knumptytravel site! And thanks you for your encyclopaedic fan-based insight!

Ahhh – Canned Heat, one of my very favourite bands of the sixties. I saw them live a few times, once at the Albert Hall. Indications of how long ago that would be was that a seat in the second row cost seventeen shillings and sixpence (87.5p in new money) and that Canned Heat were top of the bill with (a pre-“Black Night”) Deep Purple as one of the support acts. 

As was the wont of sixties bands, the line-up changed frequently with members departing due to “musical differences”, substance abuse (often the cause of the musical differences) and death – this last precluding the option of rejoining which was often necessary due to contractual obligations or the demands of the tax authorities.

The “classical” line up of Canned Heat could be considered to be:

Al “Blind Owl” Wilson on guitar and Harmonica
Bob “The Bear” Hite on vocals (and occasional rather ham-fisted guitar)
Larry “the Mole” Taylor on Bass – he also played a lot of the bass guitar parts for The Monkees
Henry “Sunflower” Vestine on guitar
Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on Drums (notable for a kit with two bass drums played with each foot)

Was there ever a band more devoted to nicknames?

Al Wilson died at the age of 27, like so many at that time – Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix to name but two. Suspected suicide due to barbiturate overdose.

Bob Hite died of heart failure.He was quite obese at that stage and being a heroin addict didn’t help.
Henry Vestine died of cancer in the late nineties. 

Modern incarnations of the band feature only Fito de la Parra from the original line-ups.

The band had three notable worldwide hits, “On the Road Again”, “Going Up the Country” and “Let’s Work Together”. As I recall, Going Up the Country was the theme song during the intro of the film of the Woodstock festival although the band themselves weren’t featured. They were featured in the Monterey Pop film that came out two years previously. 

On long-playing vinyl – some of which I have somewhere in the house, the band availed themselves of the opportunity to free themselves from the rigid I, IV, V “boogie” chord structure and branched out into such as “Parthenogenesis” – a very long-winded instrumental tone-poem and a very very long-winded drum solo from Fito -that’s what they did in the late sixties. 

I thought they were great. Still do.

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