Bob Hite was the co-lead vocalist of the American blues and rock band Canned Heat, which rose to fame after their performance at Woodstock in 1969. He was known as “The Bear” for his large size and powerful voice. He was also a passionate collector of blues records and a producer of John Lee Hooker’s album Hooker ‘n Heat. However, his life was cut short by a tragic drug overdose on April 5, 1981, at the age of 38. Here is the story of how Bob Hite cause of death happened and what led to it.
The Palomino Club Incident
On the night of April 5, 1981, Canned Heat was playing at The Palomino Club in North Hollywood, California. During a break between sets, Hite was approached by a fan who offered him a vial of heroin. Hite, who was already high on cocaine, snorted the entire contents of the vial, thinking it was more cocaine. He then collapsed on the floor and turned blue. According to Fito de la Parra, the drummer of Canned Heat, he tried to warn Hite about the potency of the heroin, but it was too late.
Somebody then attempted to revive Hite by giving him two large lines of cocaine, which he snorted without waking up. The roadies then dragged him by his ankles to a van and drove him to de la Parra’s home in Mar Vista. There, they discovered that Hite had no pulse and was not breathing. They called an ambulance, but it was too late to save him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The History of Drug Abuse
Hite’s death was not a surprise to those who knew him well. He had a long history of drug abuse and had collapsed many times before due to overdoses. He was also suffering from health problems related to his obesity and diabetes. He had been warned by doctors to lose weight and quit drugs, but he did not heed their advice. He once said, “I’m not going to die from drugs; I’m going to die from eating too much.” 3
Hite was not the only member of Canned Heat who struggled with drugs. Alan Wilson, the co-founder and co-lead vocalist of the band, had died in 1970 from an apparent suicide by barbiturate overdose. He was also depressed and had attempted suicide before. Henry Vestine, the guitarist of the band, had also died in 1997 from lung cancer caused by smoking. 4
The Legacy of Bob Hite
Despite his tragic death, Bob Hite left behind a legacy of music that influenced many artists and fans. He was one of the pioneers of blues-rock and boogie-woogie music, blending traditional blues with modern rock elements. He also helped popularize many obscure blues artists by covering their songs and producing their albums. He was admired for his charismatic stage presence and his powerful voice that could range from a deep growl to a high-pitched scream.
Hite’s death also marked the end of an era for Canned Heat, which never regained its popularity after losing its original members. However, the band continued to perform with different lineups until today, led by de la Parra. They still honor Hite’s memory by playing his songs and keeping his spirit alive.
Bob Hite cause of death was a sad reminder of the dangers of drug abuse and the toll it can take on one’s life and career. However, it also showed how much he loved music and how much he contributed to the blues-rock genre. He will always be remembered as “The Bear” who could make people boogie with his voice.