Al Wilson and Son House


Eddie "Son" House

Thanks to Rebecca Davis, who has published a biography about Al “Blind Owl” Wilson, her website at, and the Wilson family’s tribute to Alan at for the information contained in this post.

When Canned Heat visited 78 collector Joe Bussard (see recent post), one can assume that Al Wilson was one of the band members buying up 78 RPM records from Joe’s basement.  Canned Heat co-founder Al “Blind Owl” Wilson had been a young blues scholar from Cambridge, MA in the early 1960s.  When newly rediscovered bluesman Booker White played a series of Cambridge gigs in 1964, Wilson took the opportunity to interview him. From White, he learned that the seminal 1920s bluesman Son House, teacher to Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, was still alive. Partly as a result of this interview, efforts to eventually locate Son House in Rochester, NY in June of 1964 were successful.

In order to prepare Son House for the college and festival circuit, Al Wilson played guitar with him every day.  The following excerpt is from Rebecca Davis’ article, “Child Is Father to the Man” (Blues Access, Fall 1998).

To learn more about Son House’s rediscovery, and Al Wilson, please check out the fine books below:

“Blind Owl Blues,” by Rebecca Davis (available here)

“Preachin’ the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House,” by Daniel Beaumont (available here)


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5 Responses to “Al Wilson and Son House”

  1. Rebecca Davis Says:

    Thanks very much for featuring my book, and the Son House bio, in this blog post! I truly appreciate it.

  2. REED MARTIN Says:

    Many years ago I walked past a stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and Son House was singing. His efficiency of hand motion made his playing look so easy –

    Sometimes we get a memory moment that lasts a lifetime.

  3. Dean McClain Says:

    Al Wilson’s impact on The Blues has too long been underappreciated by the music industry at large, but even in blues music. I wonder how many players then and now, would list Son House as an influence if not for Al bringing him back? Most of all however, I am grateful for Alan Wilson’s deeply felt harmonica, guitar, songwriting, and his singing, with Canned Heat and John Lee Hooker, which add a hauntingly beautiful perspective to my life every single day!

  4. Felix Flanagan Says:

    A HUGH influence on me to this day. Al was the Man, and he had a tone on harp that could shake the Earth!

  5. Remembering Al “Blind Owl” Wilson of Canned Heat | b-ray bloggin' Says:

    […] is from Rebecca Davis’ article, “Child Is Father to the Man” (Blues Access, Fall 1998). Thanks to Steve […]

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