Written By: Michael Spörke
What Mick Jagger is for the Rolling Stones, or Freddie Mercury for Queen, Janis Joplin was for Big Brother & the Holding Company. Joplin’s story still determines the public view of the Band. Her passion for an intense life and her expressive singing made Janis famous. Like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison she is one of the outstanding stars of the Rock music of her time.
To many people, Big Brother and the Holding Company has always meant Janis Joplin. Big Brother, who gave Janis a platform for success by giving her the freedom and the energy to develop her musical style, were considered as amateurish and unprofessional by many reviewers. The critics downgraded Big Brother for a long time and in the Joplin biographies the band was marginalized. Janis Joplin became the singer of Big Brother in 1966, and in that group she found the space to become one of the best white blues singers in the world. Although Big Brother & the Holding Co. were known in the Bay Area of San Francisco a year before Janis Joplin joined them and although they still play today as an active band, there has never been written a real history of Big Brother.
This fame and glory of Janis Joplin overshadowed the band. Big Brother therefore is representative of all the overshadowed bands in music history. This book tells the band’s story, how difficult it is to find an identity separate from that of Janis Joplin’s overshadowing talent. As David Getz, the drummer of the band, says: “The fame of Big Brother is like a Golden Albatross. It hangs around your neck like a curse. But the curse is made of gold.” Read the rest of this entry →