Many musical historians and fans consider Canned Heat’s song “Going Up the Country” to be the best song performed at Woodstock. It’s hard to put one of the great performances at the top, but the song became the unofficial anthem of 1970 documentary Woodstock. The group almost didn’t make it to Woodstock, but the band’s manager Skip Taylor managed to secur a helicopter that flew the group to the event in the nick of time.
The blues rock band was formed in Los Angeles in 1965 by Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite. The group specialized in updating obscure old blues recordings and blended electric blues, rock and boogie into their music. Performances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock earned Canned Heat international fame. They became one of the most popular and influential acts of the hippie era with hits such as “Let’s Work Together” and “On the Road Again”.
After the deaths of Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, Adolfo de la Parra, who joined the group in 1967, kept the band going. Canned Heat survived the change and saw renewed success in the upcoming years and continues to perform today. Fito’s book, Living the Blues tells the complete “Canned Heat story of music, drugs, death, sex and survival.”
Canned Heat’s song Going Up the Country plays a key role in the plot of my return to Woodstock novel Goodbye Emily. The novel conveys that song and others as more than mere music. Woodstock performances are music history and part of our culture that I hope I captured in the upcoming book.