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Topanga, California

Canned Heat Suicide House

The mysterious, untimely death of a Canned Heat band member still haunts this unfinished home. 

Among the secluded homes of the rich and famous in Topanga Canyon stands a home left unfinished, the reason hotly debated. Officially, the structure lies on a floodplain that prevented permits from going through, halting construction indefinitely. But urban legend gives us a more supernatural explanation: It is said the untimely death of a member of the “27 club” haunts the area to this day.

On the eve of September 3, 1970, behind the private residence of Bob Hite of the band Canned Heat, fellow bandmate Alan Wilson slept under the stars. By dawn, he was dead. Autopsy reports listed his cause of death as accidental acute barbiturate intoxication; he had overdosed. Wilson joined the ranks of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in the “27 club”, a term used for famous musicians whose lives were cut short at the age of 27. It is unclear whether his death was intentional; while he had a history of attempted suicide and depression, no suicide note was left at the scene.

Bob Hite’s home would eventually be swept away in a flood. The unfinished structure that now resides on the property wasn’t built until 1990, but construction was stopped mere months in, again because of flooding.

There are conflicting stories on whether the alleged suicide of Alan Wilson happened on the property so often attributed to it. Some believe Wilson’s death occurred behind another house further up the canyon, but no research has been done to confirm or deny the stories. Nevertheless, visitors to the crumbling concrete house continue to honor Wilson’s memory, despite the possibility their respects might be misplaced.

Know Before You Go

From Highway 101, take the S Topanga Canyon Blvd exit. The property lies west across a dry creek bed, accessible by a wooden bridge. A single gate blocks cars from driving across. Most of the property can be viewed from the road.