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45 Years Ago: Janis Joplin Leaves Big Brother & The Holding Company

Columbia/Legacy Recordings

Though they may have been far from technically sound, Big Brother and the Holding Company were, in fact, the perfect band for a young Janis Joplin to have on her side. Nevertheless, her departure from the group in December of 1968 seemed inevitable right from the start.

She had informed the band of her intentions that summer, but stayed to finish the commitments they already had in place. Her final appearance with the band was on Dec. 1 of 1968 in San Fransisco. Less than a month later, she had a new band assembled. The Kozmic Blues Band also featured guitarist Sam Andrews from Big Brother, who jumped ship with Janis. “It was a really stupid decision, but she talked me into it,” Andrew told Music Radar in 2012. “I wish I had been stronger and said no.”

Joplin was unhappy not only with the direction of her former band musically, but also with the commitment of certain members. “She felt like some of the people in Big Brother weren’t working as hard as we were — and that was the truth. She was getting impatient,” Andrew explained. “Plus, she wanted to have a soul band — she was getting into that phase. So I went with her. I was curious to see what would happen.”

Drugs didn’t help the story at this point either. “When Janis and I left the band, we probably went a little crazy,” Andrew recalled, “the times in general were a little crazy.” Andrew eventually left Kozmic Blues Band as well, claiming Joplin fired him. “The Kozmic Blues Band was a constantly sinking ship. They started throwing things overboard, and I think I was the first large thing to go.”

Next: Big Brother & the Holding Company Release ‘Cheap Thrills’

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