The band formed in 1965 in Northbridge, California by Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (bottleneck guitar) and Bob “The Bear” Hite (vocals). The boys were blues fanatics and started a jug band with drummer Frank Cook and they would appear at the odd gig around LA. The boys were dedicated to reviving the Blues and to that extent would compare favourably to John Mayell in the UK. With the addition of Henry Vestine (lead guitar and formerly of the Mothers of Invention) and Brotman Canned Heat were finally formed. Their name came from a Tommy Johnson song entitled "Canned Heat Blues" recorded in 1928.
Theatre and film critic Kenneth Tynan was a well respected if not rather cynical reviewer who was invited to participate in a debate on the BBC's late-night satirical show BBC-3 on 13 November 1965. The panel were asked whether they would allow a play to be staged in which sexual intercourse was represented on the stage. Tynan replied , “Well, I think so, certainly. I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word 'fuck' would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden. I think that anything which can be printed or said can also be seen." This was the first time the word "fuck" had been spoken on British television and for a time it made him the most notorious man in the country.