Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alan Wilson of Canned Heat

I have just finished reading a book called "The 27 Club." The book is about all the influential musicians who have died at the age of 27. The book covers Robert Johnson, Alan Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, D. Boon, Kristen Plaff and many others who left this world. I wanted to more about

Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson was the leader, singer, and primary composer in Canned Heat, played guitar and harmonica, and wrote most of the songs for the band. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, majored in music at Boston University and played the Cambridge coffeehouse folk-blues circuit.

The nickname "Blind Owl" was due to his nearsightedness. While a member of Canned Heat, Wilson performed at both the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969. Canned Heat appeared in the film Woodstock, and the band's "Going Up the Country," which Wilson sang, has been referred to as the festival's unofficial theme song.
Alan was dedicated to the blues, and to the environment. He was one of the better bottleneck slide guitar players of the day, and was considered on of the best harmonica players around.
Wilson died in Topanga Canyon, California of a drug overdose at age 27. He had reportedly attempted suicide two times before and his death is sometimes reported as a suicide, this is not clearly established and he left no note.
I have been watching video of Alan on YouTube, of which there are quite a few. His slide playing, on a 50's era Les Paul Goldtop, was not in the style of Duane Allman, but based on players like Johnny Lee Hooker.
Here are a few of them:

It is sad that Alan did not stick around. It would have been interesting to see where his music would have taken him. He is not one of the most well-known of the sixties-era muscians, but he has a lasting legacy to music. Check out the videos and leave a comment on what you think of Alan. I also wonder where that cool goldtop Les Paul is today!

Here are a few interesting Alan-related sites:

The Blind Owl Blues Blog
Alan's Biography "Blind Owl Blues" by Rebecca Davis Winters
Canned Heat Website


Rebecca Davis Winters said...
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Leonardo Barzi said...
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Rebecca Davis said...
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