R.I.P. Sam Houston Andrew

Guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company Dies at 73 (NYTimes.com): ‘His death was announced on the band’s website, which said Mr. Andrew had a heart attack 10 weeks ago and underwent open-heart surgery.

Big Brother and the Holding Company was among the first and most successful exponents of the so-called San Francisco sound, an adventurous mix of folk, blues and rock influences fueled by psychedelic drugs. (Others included Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.)

Mr. Andrew, who founded Big Brother in 1965 with the bassist Peter Albin and shared lead guitar duties with James Gurley, referred to the band’s sound as a “progressive-regressive hurricane blues style.”

…Critics, even while praising Ms. Joplin’s singing, often dismissed Big Brother and the Holding Company in its late-1960s heyday as undisciplined and lacking technique. Mr. Andrew, not surprisingly, saw things differently.

“Big Brother and the Holding Company,” he once said, “was a prime example of a band where the chemistry was right, where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. You cannot buy or manufacture the natural feeling that was in that band.” ‘

Cheap Thrills (Big Brother and the Holding Com...

I tend to agree with Sam. Big Brother was not merely a backing band for Janis, as clear in the extended back and forth riffing between him and her on numbers such as ‘Ball and Chain’ or ‘Combination of the Two,’ both captured well on Cheap Thrills. Sam, I’m cueing up the LP now. You will be missed.