Big Brother and the Holding Company

Big Brother & The Holding Company was formed in 1965 by Peter Albin and Sam Andrew. Guitarist James Gurley joined the band and the trio soon began playing open jam sessions hosted by Chet Helms. Soon after, Chuck Jones joined the group as the drummer, but he played only through the Trips Festival in January 1966 and was replaced by David Getz.

Big Brother became the extremely popular house band at the Avalon Ballroom, but it was primarily an instrumental band. Chet Helms decided that the band needed a vocalist, and he contacted Janis Joplin about joining. Joplin made the trip from Austin, Texas and debuted with Big Brother on June 10, 1966. Joplin's strong vocals were a major turning point for Big Brother and they went on to achieve national success.

Big Brother's first major breakthrough was its performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. Shortly thereafter, they signed a contract with Columbia Records. Columbia booked the band for engagements around the country and on March 8, 1968, Big Brother became the first band to play at the newly opened Fillmore East and the performance was lauded by the press, citing Janis as ranking in sexual pizzazz with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, and praising “her belting, groovy style,” mixing Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown. Joplin continued with the band until December 1, 1968 when she left for a solo career, first assembling the Kosmic Blues Band, later followed by the Full-Tilt Boogie Band in 1970. Joplin was an immensely talented but troubled and insecure person, and in 1970 she died of a heroin overdose.


Posters and Handbills Featuring Big Brother and the Holding Company

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