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Hite performing with Canned Heat,
|Also known as||The Bear|
February 26, 1943|
Torrance, California, U.S.
|Died||April 5, 1981
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Genres||Blues, boogie rock, blues rock, electric blues|
|Instruments||Vocals, harmonica, flute, guitar|
|Associated acts||Canned Heat|
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. In 1965, aged 22, Hite formed a band with Wilson. 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).
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.
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.
- "Playboy After Dark - Season 2, Episode 4: Sonny & Cher; Vic Damone; Canned Heat; Larry Storch; Dick Shawn". TV.com. 2006-07-22. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- Kulczyk, David. (2009). Death In California – The Bizarre, Freakish, and Just Curious Ways People Die in the Golden State. Craven Street Books. P128 ISBN 978-1-884995-57-6