The music and attitude of Canned Heat afforded them a large following and established the band as one of the popular acts of the hippie era. Canned Heat appeared at most major musical events at the end of the 1960s, performing both blues standards and their own material, with, occasionally, lengthier 'psychedelic' solos. Two of their songs – "Going Up the Country" and "On the Road Again" – became international hits. "Going Up the Country" was a remake of the Henry Thomas song "Bull Doze Blues" recorded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1927. "On the Road Again" was a cover version/re-working of the 1953 Floyd Jones song of the same name, which is reportedly based on the Tommy Johnson song "Big Road Blues" recorded in 1928. (Read more at Wikipedia)
Links to PeelCanned Heat came out of the Los Angeles music scene of the mid-1960s and began to build a reputation as a live band in 1966-67. It is not known if Peel saw them during his time as a DJ in San Bernardino, when he attended many gigs at clubs on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, but he did obtain a copy of the band's first album, issued in summer 1967, and played tracks from it on his Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. A favourite track was "Rollin' and Tumblin'", a live performance of which was featured in D.A. Pennebaker's film documentary of the famous 1967 festival, Monterey Pop.
While Canned Heat's US fame was boosted by their Monterey appearance, their popularity in Britain and Europe was aided by track plays on Peel's shows, leading to commercial success for both the band's second LP, Boogie With Canned Heat, and the single "On The Road Again", which became a surprise Top Ten hit in the UK. The band's combination of basic blues with occasional psychedelic influences was very much to Peel's taste, and they were the only American white blues band to enjoy success during the late 1960s British blues boom. They visited Britain for live gigs and TV appearances but, like most other US bands of the era, never did a session for Top Gear. In 1970 they performed at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music, which Peel attended. He also introduced them at the Great Western Express festival at White City and the Buxton Pop Festival in 1973, and continued to play their records until the band began to fall apart in the mid-1970s.
One of Canned Heat's founder members, Alan (or Al,"Blind Owl") Wilson, died in 1970 of an overdose of barbiturates, an event which has been seen as the beginning of Canned Heat's commercial and artistic decline. Wilson was a shy, scholarly figure who struck some observers as being out of place in a raucous blues and boogie band like Canned Heat. Yet as well as singing lead on two of their biggest hits, "Going Up the Country" and "On the Road Again", Wilson was closely associated with another blues scholar and Peel favourite John Fahey. He played the Indian veena on Fahey's "Sail Away Ladies", a track which featured in the Peelenium, and also wrote (under a pseudonym) the extremely long and humorous sleevenotes for Fahey's LP The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death, one of Peel's favourite albums of 1968. Al Wilson also played a major role in the rediscovery of Son House, not only tracking down the forgotten bluesman but aiding his return to recording and performing by re-acquainting him with songs and guitar parts he had not played for decades. According to the biography page of the official Canned Heat website, the band had a night off in London during their 1970 tour of Europe, and Wilson took the opportunity to go to Son House's performance at the 100 Club and sat in with him on a couple of songs. This gig, on 30 June 1970, may have been the one where Peel expressed his annoyance with inattentive members of the audience.
Festive Fifty Entries
Other Shows Played
(This listing is incomplete due to the lack of available Peel show recordings from the 1967-1973 period. Please add further information if known)
- 06 August 1967: Rollin' and Tumblin' (LP: Canned Heat) Liberty LBL 83059
- 14 August 1967: Rollin' and Tumblin' (LP: Canned Heat) Liberty LBL 83059
- 01 October 1967: Rollin' and Tumblin' (LP: Canned Heat) Liberty LBL 83059
- 31 December 1967: Bullfrog Blues (LP: Canned Heat) Liberty LBL 83059
- 24 November 1968: Going Up The Country (single) Liberty LBF 15169
- 22 December 1968: Time Was (single) Liberty LBF 15200
- 27 April 1969 Time Was (single) Liberty LBF 15200
- 11 May 1969: Low Down (b-side of single Time Was) Liberty LBF 15200
- 27 September 1969: Poor Moon (single) Liberty LBF 15255
- 10 January 1970: Let's Work Together (single) Liberty LBF 15302
- 17 March 1972: Rockin' With The King (single) United Artists
- 07 April 1972: Cherokee Dance (LP – Historical Figures And Ancient Heads) United Artists
- 09 December 1975: Rollin' and Tumblin' (LP: Canned Heat Cookbook) Sunset
- 20 January 1999: Rollin' And Tumblin' (LP-Canned Heat) (Liberty)
- 12 February 2002: Rollin' and Tumblin' (LP: Canned Heat) Liberty LBL 83059