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Alan Wilson

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Alan “Blind Owl” Christie Wilson (July 4, 1943 – September 3, 1970) was the leader, singer, and primary composer in the American blues band Canned Heat. He played guitar and harmonica and wrote most of the songs for the band. He performed at two of the greatest concerts of the 1960s, the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969. His unique high tenor vocals made him instantly recognizable among other vocalists of the era, and are clearly heard on the film Woodstock, which chose Canned Heat’s “Going Up the Country” as the unofficial theme tune to Woodstock.

Wilson was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He died in Topanga Canyon, California of a barbiturate overdose. Wilson had reportedly attempted suicide two times before, although he left no note.[1]

Wilson was a fanatical conservationist who loved loved to reading books on botany and ecology. He often slept outdoors to be closer to nature. In 1969, he wrote and recorded a song, “Poor Moon”, which expressed concern over potential pollution of the moon. He wrote an essay called ‘Grim Harvest’, about the coastal redwood forests of California, which was printed as the liner notes to the Future Blues album by Canned Heat.

After Eddie ‘Son’ House’s ‘rediscovery’ in 1964, Wilson taught him how to play again the songs House had recorded in 1930 and 1942 (which he meanwhile had forgotten). On the double album Hooker ‘N’ Heat (1970), John Lee Hooker is heard wondering how Wilson is capable of following Hooker’s guitar playing so well.

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