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Robert Ernest Hite (February 26, 1943 – April 5, 1981) was the co-lead vocalist of the American blues-rock band Canned Heat, from 1965 to his death in 1981. His nickname was "The Bear", and was recognized by his booming gritty voice.
Hite performing with Canned Heat,
|Also known as||The Bear|
|Born||February 26, 1943|
Torrance, California, U.S.
|Died||April 5, 1981 (aged 38)|
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).
Hite performed 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. It appears that Canned Heat's 'Woodstock Boogie' sung by The Bear was on the original cut.
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 vial of heroin by a fan. He snorted it and fell into a coma, after which others unsuccessfully attempted to revive him with a large dose of cocaine. A group of roadies put Hite in a van and drove him to bandmate Fito de la Parra's 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.
- De La Parra, Fito. (2011). Living The Blues. Canned Heat's Story of Music, Drugs, Death, Sex and Survival, 3rd edition, pp. 216-218. ISBN 978-1-4566-0332-8