April 5, 1981 – Robert Ernest “Bob The Bear” Hite was born February 26 1943 in Torrance California. In 1965 Hite was introduced to Alan Wilson by Henry Vestine and the two of them helped convince blues pianist Sunnyland Slim (1906-1995) to get back into the recording studio to record. Hite formed a band with Wilson and Vestine joined soon after and this trio formed the core of Canned Heat. The trio were eventually joined by Larry Taylor (bass) and Frank Cook (drums).
Having found notoriety during the August Woodstock Festival, Canned Heat appeared on a November 1969 episode of Playboy After Dark. Hite was invited to talk with Hugh Hefner after the performance, along with other guests Sonny and Cher, Vic Damone, Dick Shawn and Larry Storch. A 20-year-old Lindsay Wagner, playing the part of one of Hefner’s party guests, sat on Hite’s lap and played a party game. When asked by Hefner what kind of animal Hite would be if he were an animal, Wagner claimed he’d be a bear. Hite told her she got it right, that people called him “The Bear.” It was also on this episode that Hite informed Hugh Hefner that he had over 15,000 78s.
Hite sang and played harmonica with Canned Heat at Woodstock in August 1969. The performances were not included in the original (1970) film Woodstock, but are in the 1994 “Director’s Cut” version.
He produced the John Lee Hooker/Canned Heat album, Hooker ‘N Heat (1971).
Bob remained the lead singer until his death. Canned Heat appeared at most major musical events of the late 1960s including the two legendary ’60s concerts Monterey and Woodstock, which gained them international fame. Their songs – “Going Up the Country” and “On the Road Again” – became international hits; both were re-workings of obscure blues
Bob Hite was 38 when on April 5, 1981, during a break between sets at The Palomino Club in North Hollywood, Hite was handed a drug vial by a fan. Thinking it contained cocaine, Hite stuck a straw into the vial and snorted it. The drug turned out to be heroin and Hite turned blue and collapsed. Some roadies put Hite in the band’s van and drove him to a nearby home where he died.