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Canned Heat Biography

Home > Music > C > Canned Heat > Biography

Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA
Years Active: 1965–present
Genres: Blues-rock, Boogie Rock, Southern Rock, Blues

Canned Heat is a blues-rock/boogie-rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1965 when two blues enthusiasts, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, began to play as a duo together. After impressive performances during the mid to late 1960s, in particular the duo's Woodstock performance, Wilson and Hite had cultivated a large fan base and expanded to a five-piece outfit. The band consisted of Hite on vocals, Wilson on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Henry Vestine on lead guitar, Larry Taylor on bass, and Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums.

Canned Heat began to perform at many musical festivals that took place during the 1960s and became an audience favorite with their electrifying stage performances. The band produced a number of hits during the decade, two of note, “Going Up the Country” and “On the Road Again,” became international hits. The band's debut album, “Canned Heat” arrived in 1967 on Liberty Records to a warm welcome, commercial success, popularity, and established the band as a favorite among the hippie movement at the time.

The 1970s marked a number of line-up changes for the band, with the death of Wilson. The band struggled on with replacing Wilson and a new leader emerged in Fito de la Parra, who today remains the only original member of the band. Walter Trout took over Wilson's role as the new vocalist, and the band put out four more albums that year and continued to tour. 1981 marked another blow when Hite died from a heart seizure. Four years later Trout parted ways with the band and James Thornbury replaced him in 1985 and remained the front man for the next decade. The band put out seven more studio albums during the 1980s and embarked on a number of world tours despite their loss in Hite and continual line-up changes.

The band's popularity remained strong in Europe and Australia, while it weaned in the U.S. as musical trends changed each decade. By 1995 Thornbury exited the band and Robert Lucas was recruited for vocal duties. As the band settled in with the sound of a new vocalist, another blow came in 1997 when Vestine died in Paris after the band's tour was winding down. The band's 31st studio album emerged in 1999, “Boogie 2000,” proving the band had staying power. Canned Heat's 2003 album, “Friends In The Can” was a big hit with fans and critics alike as the album featured various musical guests, such as John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Walter Trout, Corey Stevens, Roy Rogers, Harvey Mandel, Larry Taylor, Henry Vestine, Eric Clapton and Dr. John. 2007 saw a documentary about the band appear, “Boogie with Canned Heat: The Canned Heat Story.”

Lucas departed the band in 2000, rejoined in 2005, quit in 2008, and died the same year from an apparent drug overdose. The band's ability to pick themselves up in the face of loss remains ever true as they moved forward to release their 38th album, “Live at Montreux” in 2011. The current line-up of the band consists of Dale Spalding, “Fito” de la Parra, Larry Taylor, and Harvey Mandel.