Acrobat Music

Alan Wilson, singer, guitarist and harmonica player with Canned Heat, died on 3rd September 1970

Alan Wilson, singer, guitarist and harmonica player with Canned Heat, died on 3rd September 1970
We’re a day early with this, as we have two anniversaries for tomorrow. Alan Wilson was born in Boston on July 4th 1943, and was a blues aficionado from an early age, as well as a fanatical conservationist. He was such a blues expert that in 1964 he re-taught the recently re-discovered Son House how to play his original material. He moved to LA and fell in with a group of like-minded blues fans who gathered at Bob Hite's Topanga Canyon home, and in 1965 they formed a jug band, which gradually developed into an electric blues outfit. They made a then unreleased album with Johnny Otis in 1966 before eventually getting a deal with Liberty, releasing their first album in April '67 and appearing at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of that year. They were brilliant blues performers, with Wilson widely hailed (including by John Lee Hooker, with whom they made an album in 1969) as one of the great blues harmonica players of any race or colour. Their next album in 1968 included the hit "On the road again", and they appeared at the Newport Pop Festival that year, releasing their third album, including "Going up country", in October. 1969 saw their landmark performance at Woodstock, followed by a European tour in 1970 as "Let's work together" gave them another hit. Wilson, however, had always been a somewhat sad and eccentric figure - he was legally classified as blind, unable to see more than a couple of feet without his glasses, and was always depressed both about the environmental damage being done to the planet and by his lack of success with women. In September 1970 he was found dead in Topanga Canyon from a barbiturate overdose at the tragically young age of 27. Canned Heat has continued with a succession of line-ups for the last 40 years since his death - a tribute to the lasting appeal of their music. Acrobat has on catalogue their first and originally unreleased album - for details click here.
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