Canned Heat biography
Another of Bob's friends, Vestine (who had been expelled from Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention for excessive drug use), asked if he could join the band and was accepted while keeping Edwards on temporarily. Soon Edwards departed (he went on to form the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt) and at the same time Frank Cook came in to replace Holmes as their permanent drummer. Cook already had substantial professional experience, having performed with such jazz luminaries as bassist Charlie Haden, trumpeter Chet Baker, and pianist Elmo Hope and had also collaborated with black soul/pop artists such as Shirley Ellis and Dobie Gray.
Producer Johnny Otis recorded the band's first (unreleased) album in 1966 with the ensemble of Hite, Wilson, Cook, Vestine, and Brotman; but the record was not actually released until 1970 when it appeared as Vintage Heat, released by Janus Records. Otis ran the board for a dozen tracks, including two versions of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" (with and without harmonica), "Spoonful" by Willie Dixon, and "Louise" by John Lee Hooker all from his studio off of Vine Street in Los Angeles. Over a summer hiatus in 1966 Stuart Brotman effectively left Canned Heat after he had signed a contract for a long engagement in Fresno with an Armenian belly-dance revue. Canned Heat had contacted Brotman, touting a recording contract which had to be signed the next day, but Brotman was unable to make the signing on short notice. Brotman would go on to join the world-music band Kaleidoscope with David Lindley, replacing Chris Darrow. Replacing Brotman in Canned Heat was Mark Andes, who lasted only a couple of months before he returned to his former colleagues in the Red Roosters, who adopted the new name Spirits Rebellious, later shortened to Spirit.
After joining up with managers Skip Taylor and John Hartmann, Canned Heat finally found a permanent bassist in Larry Taylor, who joined in March 1967. He was a former member of The Moondogs and the brother of Ventures' drummer, Mel Taylor, and already had experience backing Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry in concert, and recording studio sessions for The Monkees.
In this format (Hite, Wilson, Vestine, Taylor, Cook) the band started recording in April 1967 for Liberty Records. "Rollin' and Tumblin'" backed with "Bullfrog Blues" became Canned Heat's first single. The first official album, Canned Heat, was released three months later in July 1967. All tracks were re-workings of older blues songs. The Los Angeles Free Press reported: "This group has it! They should do very well, both live and with their recordings." Canned Heat fared reasonably well commercially, reaching #76 on the Billboard chart.
Rise to fame and formation of the classic lineupThe first big live appearance of Canned Heat was at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 17, 1967. A picture of the band taken at the performance was featured on the cover of Down Beat Magazine where an article complimented their playing: "Technically, Vestine and Wilson are quite possibly the best two-guitar team in the world and Wilson has certainly become our finest white blues harmonica man. Together with powerhouse vocalist Bob Hite, they performed the country and Chicago blues idiom of the 1950s so skillfully and naturally that the question of which race the music belongs to becomes totally irrelevant." D.A. Pennebaker's documentary captured their rendition of "Rollin and Tumblin" and two other songs from the set, "Bullfrog Blues" and "Dust My Broom", found place later in a boxed CD set in 1992. Heat is also included on an album called Early LA.
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