WORTH REPEATING: The Time 16-Year-Old* John Lurie Rocked The Spectrum With Canned Heat


TODD MCGOVERN: Obviously you can’t always trust what you read – but your Wikipedia entry states that you played harmonica in high school, jamming with Mississippi Fred McDowell and Canned Heat in 1968. Is that true? If so, what were the circumstances of those gigs?

JOHN LURIE: Yes, that is true. I think Wikipedia is better than it used to be. About eight years ago, I wrote in my profile that my head was made out of ancient cheese and it stayed there for months. But now I think they are pretty good about making things accurate. I saw Mississippi Fred McDowell playing in a small club and everyone was egging me on to take my harmonica out. So I did between songs and he invited me up. Canned Heat? We hitchhiked from Worchester to New York to see them play Carnegie Hall. After the show, we were hanging out on the corner with nowhere to go, and they came walking out. I said, “I play the harmonica and will hitchhike to wherever you are playing next to show you I am serious.” I was 16 I think. They said they were in Philadelphia at the Spectrum the next night. So we hitchhiked there and snuck into the Spectrum in the afternoon and waited for them. They came walking in, John Lee Hooker was with them and oddly, they all seemed incredibly happy to see me. Bob Hite asked me to play something on the harmonica. saying, “Ok, first two songs are in E.” So I got up and played with them in front of 20,000 people. MORE

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to RememberTheSpectrum.com, Canned Heat played the Spectrum, on April 16th 1971. Lurie was born December 14th, 1952, which means he was 18 at the time, not 16. Just want to clarify that in the name of science.