Alan WilsonOn 04/07/1943. Alan Wilson was born. He was born and grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. During his teens, he was part of a jazz ensemble with friends from his school. He became interested in blues after a friend played a Muddy Waters record for him After graduating from Arlington High School he went to Boston University to major in music. Whilst at the university he would play in the coffeehouses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He would write articles for Broadside of Boston newspaper and folk-revival magazine Little Sandy Review. His knowledge of blues music was extensive. Among his influences were Skip James, Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Bukka White. Skip James was a particular influence on Wilson's vocal style.
In 1964 Son House came back into the limelight but had forgotten how to play some of his material due to his long break from music. Wilson helped show him how to play the songs and Wilson featured on the record "Father of the Delta Blues", playing harmonica and guitar.
Whilst in Cambridge, Wilson met guitarist John Fahey. Fahey would give Wilson the nickname "Blind Owl", due to his poor eyesight, round facial features and scholarly nature. Wilson's eyesight was so bad, that whilst playing at a wedding he laid his guitar on the wedding cake as he couldn't see it. Wilson and Fahey moved to Los Angeles, so that Wilson could help Fahey with his UCLA master's thesis on Charley Patton. There Wilson met Bob Hite, who he would form Canned Heat with.
Canned Heat would play at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969. They would have big hits with the songs "Going Up the Country" and "On the Road Again". In what would turn out to be Wilson's last album, Canned Heat collaborated with John Lee Hooker on "Hooker 'N Heat". Hooker was highly impressed with how easily Wilson followed Hooker's guitar playing, that was known to be difficult to accompany. He also remarked that "Wilson is the greatest harmonica player ever".
On September 3, 1970, Wilson was found dead on a hillside at the age of 27, the cause of death was acute barbiturate intoxication. It is not clearly established whether his death was suicide or not. He had been suffering from depression and had attempted suicide a few months earlier.
His family purchased a grove naming in his honour through the Save the Redwoods League of California. Supporting Wilson's dedication to conservation.