One of the best American blues-rock/boogie-rock band from the flower child era of the 1960s still generates plenty of heat. Canned Heat is scheduled to perform with the Fabulous Thunderbirds on New Year’s Eve at the historic Sheridan Opera House. Doors open at 9: 00 p.m. A dj sets the pace until the bands take over at 10 p.m.
Canned Heat was launched by two blues aficionados, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the group’s name from a 1928 Tommy Johnson recording, “Canned Heat Blues,” a song about an alcoholic who, in desperation, had turned to drinking Sterno, generally referred to as “canned heat.”
Canned Heat grabbed the international spotlight after two big shows in the late 1960s, performing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who), and at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Canned Heat’s unique blend of modern electric blues, rock and boogie has earned the band a loyal following and influenced many aspiring guitarists and bands over the past four decades. The band boasts collaborations with John Mayall, Little Richard and blues icon, John Lee Hooker. The Heat’s Top-40 country-blues-rock songs, “On The Road Again,” “Let’s Work Together,” and “Going Up The Country,” became rock anthems throughout the world, the latter adopted as the unofficial theme song for the film “Woodstock.” If you were not around in the bad old days, you may recognize the Heat’s music from TV commercials: “On The Road Again” for Miller Beer, “Goin’ Up The Country” for Pepsi, Chevrolet and McDonalds, “Let’s Work Together” for Lloyd’s Bank, England’s Electric Company and Target.
Canned Heat were arguably the original hard-luck boys. On the very edge of breaking out their first big album, the ‘Heat” got busted in Denver and were forced to sell the rights to their songs to get off the hook. Yet despite untimely deaths, the ebb and flow of musical trends, and bum luck, the fact the group just celebrated its 40th anniversary with its World Boogie Tour is largely thanks to the efforts of drummer and bandleader Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra, who took over in the late 1970s, ultimately aided by former Telluride local, manager/producer Skip Taylor.
The Heat’s current lineup featuring Fito on drums, Greg Kage on bass and vocals, Dale Spalding on guitar, harmonica and vocals, and Barry Levenson on guitar.
Fito’s book, “Living the Blues,” documents Canned Heat’s wild and woolly history of “music, drugs, death, sex and survival.”
To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to my interview with Fito.