Big Brother & The Holding Company

Thursday March 21, 2019 @ 8:00 PM

Big Brother & The Holding Company along with bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service – is considered one of the original, first wave of great psychedelic bands that came out of San Francisco in the summer of 1965.

The embryo that was to become Big Brother and the Holding Company began when Peter Albin, a 21 year old, aspiring Folk Blues guitarist, who had been a part of South Bay Roots’ music scene that also gave us Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter and the Grateful Dead, met Sam Andrew, a 23 year old guitarist who’d been in bands since his teens in Okinawa and had studied languages and philosophy at University of SF and the Sorbonne.

Sam and Peter began jamming together in the basement/ballroom of an old Victorian mansion in the Haight –Ashbury district. With the help of their friend, future manager and concert promoter Chet Helms (The Family Dog, Avalon Ballroom), Big Brother and The Holding Company was born.

In the first few months there were changes in personnel; guitarists and drummers came and went but Peter and Sam remained the core of the band. Chet introduced Peter and Sam to James Gurley who was 26 and from Detroit. James became the lead guitarist and his unique style of playing became the early signature sound of the band. Peter met Dave Getz, also 26, an abstract painter and drummer who toured Europe with a Dixieland Jazz band and had played jazz since his teens. Dave Getz joined in March of 1966, bringing the needed power and energy to the rhythm section

Big Brother as a four man ensemble was a featured band at some of the first acid-fueled, dance-concerts like the Trips Festival and the Tribal Stomp and though they already had many fans and were headlining they wanted something else to complete their sound: a strong female lead singer.

They auditioned several singers but it wasn’t until Chet Helms convinced fellow Texan, Janis Joplin to come out to San Francisco that the band was complete.

Big Brother and the Holding Company, like many of the great bands of the era (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones) were about something; it had had its own ‘persona’. For the followers of the music scene, the people who danced and listened at the Fillmore and the Avalon, Big Brother and the Holding Co were greater than the sum of its parts.

The Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967 was the first great international rock festival and it was the moment when Big Brother and its lead singer Janis Joplin blew open the collective mind of the audience and rose to the top of the Rock music hierarchy. It was also the moment in which that same audience discovered Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and several other artists that were destined to take rock music to the next level.

With Nick Gravenites and Kathi MacDonald singing, James on bass Peter and Sam on guitars along with David Shallach and Mike Finnegan on B3 organ. Big Brother re-invented itself with new material and an eclectic approach to Rock that was creative, funky and for the next two years at the forefront of the West Coast music scene.

The songs from Cheap Thrills and their first Mainstream album are now a part of Rock Music history. Their legacy as one of the great bands of the 1960s is secure. In their shows they perform all of their legendary songs; “Piece of My Heart”, “Summertime”, “Ball and Chain”, “Bye Bye Baby” as only the original creators of this music can. And to show that Big Brother is still a living, creative band they throw in a taste of new, original material that embodies the same signature, Big Brother ideas and energy.

Tickets to see Big Brother & The Holding Company at Bridge Street Live are $49 for General Admission and $64 for VIP Reserved (plus fees).