"Canned Heat" Interview
Who would've thought
that one song, would lead to a musical career, that would take you all over
the world? Caned Heat probably wouldn't have believed it, but it's what happened
Canned Heat formed in 1965, but it's their appearance at Woodstock in 1969
and the song "Goin' Up The Country" (included in the Woodstock film)
which cemented the group's claim to fame. The group has worked the world and
continued to record these last 25 years, despite the loss of two key members
- Al Wilson and Bob Hite.
Canned Heat's latest release is titled "Reheated" and can be found
on the Dali/Chamelon label.
We talked with original Canned Heat members, "Fito" de la Parra,
(drummer), and bassist Larry Taylor.
Q. Did you ever think that twenty plus years later, there would still be
a Canned Heat?
A. Larry - Yeah, I thought it probably would be a long lasting thing
'cause of the kind of music I like and what Canned Heat is. Of course, I"ve
been in and out many times, in the band, but I'm here now, and that's proof
A. Fito –I also had that feeling. Unfortunately, some of our management
didn't feel that way. They looked upon us like we were just a pop making
group. That was just something that comes and goes. We really refused to
accept that. I always put a lot of value on the music the band came up with,
even before I joined the band. I was a fan of Canned Heat since Larry's
first gig. I saw Larry's first gig.
Q. How did you hook up with The Chameleon Music Croup?
A. Fito - Chameleon was really meant to be our label for our comeback
effort, especially because of the popularity of a John Lee Hooker record,
which we are part of. So that made Chameleon aware that Canned Heat was
around, and that it was a good band for them to have. He's the one who
talked it over with them. Of course, it came out very good. It's a happy
Q. How many months out of the year do you tour, and what kind of venues
are you playing ?
A. Larry - We go to Europe quite a bit. We go to Australia quite a bit.
We play large clubs, pubs in Australia, some small concert halls in Europe,
and festivals sometimes, blues festivals.
A. Fito - We've been doing that for at least seven years now.
Q. Fito, you moved from Mexico to LA. in the mid 60's. What was the music
scene in LA. like back then, with groups like The Doors exploding on the
A. Fito - My first gig with Canned Heat was with The Doors. We did many
gigs together. It was great because there were a lot of places to work at.
The explosion of rock in Mexico was good, and I did very good over there.
I was in. many popular groups but there was a constant government trip of
oppression, continually closing the night clubs and messing with musicians
and the people that like rock ‘n’ roll. So, I came to the U.S.
looking for a better way, and also to develop and play more black music
which I was interested in. I saw Los Angeles as a great place. There were
all kinds of joints. Everywhere there was "live" music, and people
went there and danced.
A. Larry - I lived here all through the 50's, and the early 60's, and
the mid 60's. So, I was in L.A. playing all through those years too. There
was a lot always going on in L.A. A lot more going on I think then, than
now, all the way back to 1957 when I was first starting to play. There was
never a problem getting a gig.
A. Fito - And now there are bands that have to pay to play; (Laughs.)
Q. Who thought up the name "Canned Heat?"
A. Fito - Well, it comes from an old record by Tommy Johnson. He did
a song called "Canned Heat Mama." And the idea I believe came
one time at Bob Hite's house. They were listening to the record "Canned
Heat Mama" and were already talking about forming a jug band at the
time. That's how the name came out. I think it's a great name.
Q. Canned Heat had a song in the Woodstock movie, but your performance
was not included. How come?
A. Fito – We were not a Warner Bros. act. It was a political decision
because they knew how much of a classic it was going to be, and they decided
to give preference to acts that were affiliated with their corporation.
Actually we got one of the best receptions. We gave a great performance,
and I believe it should've been part of the film. Of course, they had to
use the song. It's practically the theme.
Q. What was the atmosphere like at Woodstock?
A. Fito - Hey, man, it was just like a big party.
A. Larry - It's hard to remember. It's a feeling. You can't put it in
words. It's one of those things, that's a special thing, that you just can't
talk about. At least that's how I feel about it. I think other people I've
talked to have the same feeling. It's a one-time shot. If you experienced
it, you're lucky.
A. Fito - By the way, since you mentioned Woodstock, I wanted to let
you know that Harvey Mandel has rejoined Canned Heat. And, he was at Woodstock
too. He was the guitar player in Canned Heat.
Q. Your encore every night must be 'Goin' Up The Country,'' right?
A. Fito - Not really. We put it right in the middle of the set. Just
to get rid of it. (Laughs.) It makes a party after that song really
happening. It creates a party atmosphere. It goes up from there. We actually
have more intense musical stuff to play than "Goin' Up The Country."
© Gary James All Rights Reserved