Alan Wilson was a scholar of early, folk/acoustic blues and was a member of the blues/boogie band Canned Heat in the 1960s and early 1970s. He helped re-discover the famous blues artist Son House by re-teaching him his own guitar style after alcoholism and many years of absence from music had taken a toll on his memory. Alan also helped re-discover John Lee Hooker with the 1971 release of the album Hooker and Heat, where Alan and the rest of Canned Heat boogied with John in the studio for a double record set. The album was a huge boost to Hooker's career and brought him out of obscurity. When asked many years later who played his music best, Hooker replied, "The Canned Heat", without hesitation. He also stated during the Hooker and Heat sessions that Alan Wilson was the best harmonica player ever and that he didn't know how he could follow his music. Hooker was known to be hard to follow due to his neglect for "standard" blues structure, but Alan had no problem accompanying him, as Alan had educated himself over many years by listening and dissecting Hooker's music.
Alan is best known for his work with Canned Heat on songs such as "Going Up the Country", "On the Road Again", and "Let's Work Together." These songs are timeless and are still being used in TV commercials and movie soundtracks to this day.
Sadly, Wilson died on September 3, 1970 of a drug overdose, which many close friends believe was a suicide. The loss of Al was a huge blow to Canned Heat, and after his death they never had another worldwide hit like their previous chart toppers.
- Kyle Fosburgh
(Musical leader of Canned Heat)