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Henry Vestine, 52; Original Guitarist With Canned Heat

October 24, 1997

Henry "The Sunflower" Vestine, the original guitarist of the 1960s blues-rock group Canned Heat, has died at 52.

Vestine, who had been touring Europe with the band, died Monday in a hotel near Paris of apparent respiratory failure, a spokeswoman for Tapestry Artists in Encino said Thursday.

She said band members reported that Vestine had suffered from a severe cold during the tour, had not seen a doctor and was having difficulty breathing.

Vestine, who lived in Eugene, Ore., left the band in 1969 but joined the reconstituted group for most of its foreign tours and some appearances in the U.S.

Two other founding members of Canned Heat have also died. Bob "The Bear" Hite, a 300-pound vocalist, died in 1981 of a heart attack, and guitarist and vocalist Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson died of a drug overdose in 1970.

The group made its reputation at the Woodstock Festival and the Monterey Pop Festival. Its best-known hits were a modal-sounding "On the Road Again" and "Goin' Up the Country."

Vestine was known for his distinctive angry, buzzing guitar sound that prompted one fan to claim he could identify Vestine's playing from a single note.

The musician is survived by a teenage son, Jesse.

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