Okay. I will admit; I was never a big fan of Canned Heat. Maybe because they were playing everywhere in L.A. all the time, or it was the terminally long jams, or it was Blues bands were a dime a dozen in those days – it could have been any one of a number or combination of all the above. But I remember hearing, almost non-stop “Going Up The Country” and “On The Road Again” on my FM radio in 1970 and it drove me suitably nuts. Canned Heat also had that West Coast laid-back/brown-rice/crunchy granola/hippy ethic that was the sole property of Southern California – and bib overalls were just not my thing.
That said – Canned Heat have gone on to become one of the most recognizable bands of the 60s – and judging from the amount of times Going Up The Country appears on TV commercials of late, their popularity continues.
While their early hits (see above) were endlessly played on FM, they also had the distinction of getting a healthy dose of AM airplay too – which made them more or less a crossover band (Underground and Mainstream at the same time). Canned Heat were mostly noted for their interpretations of blues material and for their efforts to promote interest in this type of music and its original artists. The band was launched by two blues enthusiasts, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson’s 1928 “Canned Heat Blues”, a song about an alcoholic who had desperately turned to drinking Sterno, generically called “canned heat” (from the original 1914 product name Sterno Canned Heat), After appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals at the end of the 1960s, the band acquired worldwide fame with a lineup consisting of Hite (vocals), Wilson (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Henry Vestine and later Harvey Mandel (lead guitar), Larry Taylor (bass), and Adolfo de la Parra (drums).
This appearance at The Tea Party in Boston winds up becoming some of the last for Alan Wilson, since he died in September of that year. The band went through a number of personnel changes over the years, but the surviving three members have kept things going and are still widely popular throughout the world.
So even though I may not be joining you, that’s no excuse for you not to, at the behest of The Bear, “boogie your ass off”.