Big Brother and the Holding Company

A group of the late sixties, Big Brother and the Holding Company peaked in popularity in 1968. The strength of the band was in its musicality as it supported the enormous talent of Janis Joplin. Although Grace Slick was arguably one of the first female singers to be highly successful with a rock band, Joplin is felt by some critics to be more important. At the Monterey Festival in 1967, she brought down the house because she was so strong, sexual, and unique. Her singing style was straight from the rhythm and blues tradition; before joining Big Brother, she was a powerhouse blues singer. Her singing style was gutsy, using groans and a raspy voice, and she made you feel the pain she was going through. One of the most powerful performers of the rock era, Joplin served as a model for other women in rock and roll. She dumped Big Brother in 1968 and assembled the Kosmic Blues Band, followed by the Full-Tilt Boogie Band in 1970. Hugely talented but tortured and insecure, Joplin died of a heroin overdose in 1970. Big Brother, active before Joplin joined them and after she left, was the house band at the Avalon Ballroom and played a progressive style of instrumental rock through the era.

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