Bluesman Wilbert Harrison was responsible for Canned Heat’s third hit song. After the Los Angeles blues rock boogie band scored their first and second hits with now classics ‘On The Road Again’ and ‘Going Up The Country’, their third hit was a cover of Wilbert’s ‘Lets Stick Together’.
“He was the same guy who wrote ‘Kansas City’ (The Beatles),” Canned Heat founding member Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra tells Noise11.com. “He recorded it as ‘Lets Stick Together’ in 1962 and later re-recorded it in 1969 as ‘Let’s Work Together’. It was a beautiful version”.
Canned Heat stumbled across Harrison’s later version via their original singer Bob ‘The Bear’ Hite. “When we found it, it was at Bob Hite’s house,” Fito says. “Bob Hite was a record collector and musicologist. He played it for us. He said it was a great song and could be a hit but wanted to wait to see what happened with Wilbert’s version.
“We waited about six months and it didn’t do anything. It faded out. When we realised it was fading out we decided to record it. We went to this studio in Los Angeles and recorded it in mono. Not even stereo. It was just a couple of microphones, very live and it came out great. It was one of the best sounding records of the time. It became a big hit record in Europe and Australia. Wilbert Harrison was delighted. He got the publishing royalties. He wrote it, we made it famous. It was good for him”.
After that the song took on a life of itself. Its next incarnation was via Bryan Ferry. “Bryan Ferry recorded his version of it but he called his ‘Let’s Stick Together’,” Fito said. “It was very nice too and also a hit record but not quite as big a hit as our version. Our version was Top 10 worldwide. They even used it for a government election advertisement once in Australia”.
In 1988 Bob Dylan recorded his version of the Bryan Ferry version of the Canned Heat version of the Wilbert Harrison song.
Canned Heat formed in Los Angeles in 1965. They were one of the bands that played at the original Woodstock and will return to Woodstock for Woodstock 50 in August.
They will tour Australia in May.
CANNED HEAT 2019 AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Thursday 16th May
Corner Hotel, Richmond
Friday 17th May
Yarraville Club, Yarraville
Saturday 18th May
Evan Theatre, Penrith Rugby Leagues Club
Sunday 19th May
Broadbeach Blues Festival, Gold Coast
Tuesday 21st May
The Wedge Theatre, Sale
Friday 24th May
SS&A Club, Albury
Saturday 25th May
Bridge Hotel, Sydney
Sunday 26th May
West Leagues Club, Newcastle