Canned Heat's Fito de la Parra sex, drugs, rock n roll


A Hard Luck Blues Band

Canned heat was a hard luck blues band of the sixties, founded by blues historians and record collectors, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite. Their music attracted a huge following and established the band as one of the most popular acts of the hippie era. Despite their success, or maybe because of it, drugs and alcohol followed them everywhere and led to a tragic end. Drummer Fito De La Para is the only remaining member from the band’s original line up

Sex Drugs and Rock n Roll

Fito’s book is called Living the Blues. It was finished in the late nineties, so it’s already an old book. It’s been out for a long time and it’s been doing quite well. But for many years it was just a self made, self-published book that I was selling on my website on the Canned Heat website. The idea to write a book came from my co-writers, mainly. I never expected to have the talent to write a book. I’m not a writer. I happen to be a good raconteur. I tell stories good. And my co-writers were also into motorcycles. And we used to ride motorcycles together. We know each other since Mexico City, many years ago, more than 50 years ago. Every time we were out on the rides, there’s a time when you ride with friends, you stop to eat lunch and you exchange the stories. That’s what the culture of motorcycle is all about. It’s not only the riding and the showing off, it’s sometimes you stop and share different stories with friends. So my writers met each other in high school and they. And that’s the life they had was a very standard life. So they used to go crazy with my stories. They used to love my stories, and that’s when the idea came to write a book. When I will told them some of the Canned Heat stories, they would be on the floor laughing. They just couldn’t believe the stuff that was going on.  In the desert in California, we shook hands and they said, We’re gonna write a book with you. And they did it. And since they were both expert journalists, they did a very good job.

I have still a few people that are still alive that can confirm everything I wrote. You lost most of your band members as a result of all those excesses, didn’t you? Yeah. I lost people and band members, and also members that came in later. Canned Heat had been a very brilliant band, but it has also been a very tragic band, and I think we have more dead people in our history than any other band around. Do you put that down to the lifestyle? Sometimes it’s a lifestyle. Sometimes it’s, I guess, again, the kind of music, the blues. And some of these blues musicians, they want to sort of repeat what the Blues bastards did, including the self destruction. I had a Mexican friend that the Mexican are very hard about death and the humor in Mexico. And, uh, this guy comes to me and during world, my Mexican friends says, You know, the bands that have the most dead are the best.

The Drink of the Desperate

The name Canned Heat comes from the sternal cans. You know, the solid alcohol fuel that you used to keep food warm? They use it for hotels and the restaurants, You know, the little cans that they put under the plates. So during provision in the thirties, the poor people and the black people in the south used the solid alcohol sternal. They would pull out the substance, it’s a heavy jello like substance, and then they would squeeze it through a handkerchief or through a sock and mix it with Coca-Cola or Orange Crush and then drink it.

Taking the Blues to a whole new level

The music was accepted by the mainstream, and I don’t think it had been accepted before that really.  And that was really our main mission and our main desire. We never expected to become a popular band. We never even cared about it and, and even gave it any attention to it. When we had our first hit record, we couldn’t believe it.

The song broke by itself in Dallas, Texas. This DJ in Dallas started playing it and then another in Houston, Texas started playing and you know, Texas is a blue state, and then there it was, it became a worldwide hit. It broke all the rules, didn’t it? It was much too long as a single, It wasn’t radio friendly at all, and yet it, it just shot up the charts. I guess it was part of the times, You know, I call this a kind of a renaissance in music, the late sixties and early seventies, and I guess that’s when blues music became very part of all this bands that were playing, and we were improvising a lot and playing long solos and doing all this stuff that you know, that nobody does anymore. Our mission and our desire was to make Blues music palatable to white audiences. Most people didn’t know about it. It was a very rare thing. It was on a few bits here and there that went to this small clubs with 10, 20 people and listen to some of the old masters like John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed and all that. We wanted to make blues understood and appreciated, just like jazz music was worldwide, and I guess we did a pretty good job at it. By the time we started playing blues, black people already were sort of turning their backs on it because it reminded them of painful times. Times of racism, times of segregation. And times of Uncle Tom’s cabin.

What to watch? The Patient

The Patient is intimate and contained. For long stretches, it functions as a two-hander, with scenes that involve a pair of actors doing exceptional work opposite each other: Steve Carell as therapist Dr. Alan Strauss and Domhnall Gleeson as Sam, a patient with homicidal tendencies. The majority of episodes have tight run times of 30 minutes or less. It’s all killer, no filler. Sam is a serial murderer who kidnaps Alan, chains him up in the basement of his home, and insists that Alan cure him of his desire to take the lives of people he deems offensive. is not a “murder show.” It doesn’t fixate on the grisly nature of Sam’s crimes instead offers surprising twists and thoughtful nuance in equal measure. The Patient emphasises a sense of claustrophobia and isolation with the hope for Alan’s rescue extinguished each time Sam walks through the sliding glass doors. It’s certainly one of the most thought-provoking and absorbing series you’re likely to see.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. David M. Shapera, El Mirage, AZ.

    Excellent interview. Been a Canned Heat fan since 1968.

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