Updated: 12/20/99

Canned Heat is a legendary band who has played Woodstock and weathered the triumphs and tragedies many groups who have lived through the late 60's endured. With Woodstock under their belts and their reputation for musical innovation, Canned Heat were truly one step ahead of their time. They still record today, and have just released a new CD entitled Boogie 2000 on Ruf Records. We recently had the opportunity to speak with founding member Fito De La Parra. The drummer for Canned Heat, Fito has recently written a book about his experiences in the band. Read on for more about the colorful past, present and future of Canned Heat!

Highwire Daze: How does the music on the new album Boogie 2000 compare to the classic Canned Heat music?

Fito De La Parra: We've always tried to keep the band within context of what Canned Heat is suppose to be about. We are the band that married country/blues with rock and roll. Basically, the band has been very much a blues-rock band. And the latest CD represents the current line-up. It's pretty much a blues oriented CD. We're not exactly as we were when we started -- that would be very hard to do. People have died and time has gone by. But in many ways, the path of the musical effort that we do -- we always try to keep it all within context. We will not prostitute Canned Heat for the sake of fame and fortune.

HD: Do you wish that people would connect with your newer material?

Fito: Absolutely! To me, the most important thing is to pay attention to the band's material in the past two to three years. That's what counts for us -- even financially because we don't make any money out of the old classic material. You'll have to read my book and know about my chapter on Royalties and see how we lost our royalties and all that. You have these horror stories in the music business and our (royalty loss) is one of them. But to bring it back to your question -- I put emphasis on asking our fans to not only concentrate on what Canned Heat was in the 60's and what it represented then -- but also what we're doing now, which I think is very valid.

HD: Canned Heat at Woodstock! What was it like playing and did you even imagine that you were making music history at the time?

Fito: No, absolutely not. I'll tell you, I didn't even want to go! My manager practically dragged me out of bed. I was resisting it as much as I could. I quit the band that day. I said, "I quit! I don't want to go! I'm thoroughly exhausted and I don't care!" I didn't know how big it was. To me it was another outdoor gig that we had to do that day. I didn't know that it was going to be a major event. That it was going to make a statement of a generation. The night before, we played at The Fillmore East. And I was pretty exhausted and I didn't really care for the idea of going to two different airports and jumping on a small plane and then in a helicopter just to make it to this strange town that I'd never heard of. That was my position of Woodstock that morning in 1969. Of course my mind changed the moment we arrived and I noticed that this was the biggest gig that I was ever going to play. I mean, how often do you have half a million people in one place. When we arrived, I realized that this was a landmark -- that it was a great thing. So I was happy I showed up!

HD: What do you think of the antics that happened at this year's Woodstock?

Fito: I think they were doing okay until that last one. The last one that created the rioting and all that. I believe that the kids were not responsible for the rioting. It was the environment that created that. And that was an environment of greediness and overcharging and lack of brotherly feeling like the original Woodstock was. In my opinion, the last Woodstock was the completely different side of the spectrum of what the Woodstock experience should be about. And that's why the young kids were pissed off. They were there to feel what their parents felt -- they didn't go there to get ripped off. They were there to feel community with people of their age and the music they like. Some of them got that, of course. But I identify with the rebels -- I identify with the ones that got pissed off. When I found out they were charging five bucks for the water -- if I were an 18 year old with my bald head and my baseball cap the other way back, I would have thrown it in their faces -- I would have said "F*ck off and shove it!" I don't know how much the tickets were, but I assume they were expensive. Our Woodstock was free. Only the first ten thousand people paid -- their were no fences. It was totally anarchy!

HD: What happened to Canned Heat after Woodstock?

Fito: There's been so much that has happened to this band. The band has gone through all the trials and tribulations of developing in a fastly changing world. Canned Heat had been very much not a trendy band -- not a pop commercial band. We were always an underground, blues oriented band. It's been fascinating in a way, but in many aspects it was very depressing and devastating for our careers, the hopes we had and the feelings we had about music. But now that so many years have gone by and so many things have happened, I have a better outlook for the future of music.

HD: How would you like Canned Heat to be remembered 20 years from now?

Fito: We should be remembered as a legendary band that played compelling music -- I mean, our music has kicked ass all over the place! I know I would not like to be remembered, but I know we'll be remembered as a tragic band with people that broke certain thresholds in behavior. But in a way, that was part of the brilliance of the band too. And I would like us to be remembered as a band that had integrity. And to be respected.

Canned Heat will be playing all over Los Angeles in special New Years Eve events. Check out their web page at for more info on their shows and other band happenings.


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