Tribute and Variety
Shows are super successful. The buyer gets more bang for the buck, spending the same amount on
4 to 6 names.
The audience gets to hear a variety of artists. Win Win!
BROTHER & THE HOLDING COMPANY
Evolving out of the San Francisco rock scene of the
mid-1960s, Big Brother was in the forefront of the psychedelic music
The band was formed by Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, James Gurley and Chuck
Jones in San Francisco, in the Haight Ashbury section. Originally called
the Blue Yard Hill, with various members floating in and out, Big Brother
became a reality in September of that year. The name was selected by
legendary concert promoter Chet Helms from a list of names that the band
was reviewing for consideration. "Big Brother" was near the top
of the list and "The Holding Company" close to the bottom; with
a decision to combine the two, Big Brother and the Holding Company was
Their first official gig took place in January 1966 at the Open Theater
in Berkeley. Within a short time they became the house band for Chet Helms
at the Avalon Ballroom and began to develop a loyal following of fans. The
band had what Sam Andrew described as a "progressive-regressive
hurricane blues style" in the early days. Highlights of their early
performances included "Coo Coo", "That's How Strong My Love
Is" and "Hall Of The Mountain King" usually relying on
Peter Albin for lead vocals. Later, Peter would also sing the lead on the
early versions of "Down On Me", and "Summertime".
In 1966, Chuck Jones left the band and was replaced by Dave Getz.
Another change that year was the addition of a female lead singer, Chet
Helms suggested Janis Joplin. The band became aware of her shortly
after she came to San Francisco; Peter and James heard her in
coffeehouses. On Chet's urging Janis auditioned for the band at their
rehearsal hall in an old firehouse and she was invited to join the band.
Janis debuted with Big Brother on June 10, 1966, at the Avalon Ballroom.
The majority of Big Brother fans approved of the addition, and Janis
became an instant hit.
When Janis joined, the musical direction of the band began to change.
In the early days they regularly launched into extended improvisations
such as The Hall of the Mountain King, a number they playing in concert
that often stretched out into a fifteen-minute flight of fancy. After
Janis came, the format became more structured to accommodate a vocalist.
In August 1966, Big Brother went to Chicago for an extended engagement
at Mother Blues, a major blues-rock venue. It was there that they signed
their first record contract with Mainstream Records. It was almost a year
before their self-titled album was released. Their popularity grew and in
June 1967 the band was invited to play at the Monterey Pop Festival. Their
performance at Monterey - particularly Janis and her "screamingly
mournful vocals and potently sexual stage act", as a reviewer wrote -
truly shot Big Brother into the national spotlight. Janis was hailed
as a great blues singer. Ed Denson of the Berkeley Barb also
observed that "it was the instrumentalists who really made the group
out of sight."
Following the Monterey Pop Festival performance, Big Brother was signed
by Columbia Records. Their second album, Cheap Thrills, was
a tremendous success, monopolizing the #1 spot on the charts for 8 weeks. The musicianship on the album is unparalleled. James Gurley,
who has been called the "Father of Psychedelic Guitar" by Guitar
Player magazine, and Sam Andrew took the dueling lead guitars to new
heights. Rick Clark, in the All Music Book, said: "Anyone who thinks
Guns N' Roses mastered hard electric blues-grunge hasn't heard Big
Brother's James Gurley and Sam Houston Andrew duke it out on tracks like
'Ball And Chain', 'Summertime' and 'Combination Of The
By the close of 1968, Janis Joplin decided to leave the band. Sam
Andrew joined her in her new Kozmic Blues Band, and Peter Albin and David
Getz joined Country Joe and The Fish. Big Brother ceased to exist for a
period of months; but by the early fall of 1969 the band was resurrected.
and two more Columbia albums were released.
Over a period of months beginning in 1972 Big Brother began to come apart
as a band as the individual members became involved in other bands and
musical projects. Big Brother and the Holding Company reunited only
once, for an October 1978 show organized by Chet Helms at the Greek
Theatre in Berkeley.
The rebirth of the band occurred almost ten years later in 1987,
coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the Summer of Love. The current lineup consists of original band members Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, and David Getz. The band has been actively touring since l987. The backbone of Big Brother & the Holding Company remains its solid rhythm section and signature psychedelic blues
guitar. Bay Area guitarist Tom Finch has been with the band for the last three years and vocals have been shared by some very talented ladies, including Lisa Mills, Halley Devestern, Lisa Battle, Cathy Richardson, and Andra Mitrovich, the latter two starring in the play
Big Brother & the Holding Company has had two successful albums since
Janis Joplin left - "Be A Brother" and "How Hard It
Is". Reviews of SONY releases finally credit the band's contribution to launching Joplin's career and acknowledge they were probably the best band she ever sang with.
The dueling guitars of Andrew and Gurley, the rhythmic bass of
Albin, and the solid beat of Getz sound as fresh and crisp today as it did
thirty years ago and they have played to enthusiastic audiences around
the world. This edition of Big Brother and the
Holding Company is a band not to be missed.