Big Brother and the Holding Company, part four. January to June 68

This is the story of Big Brother and the Holding Company. This is the part where we go up, up, up.


January to June 1968

Linda McCartney took this photograph when she was Linda Eastman and a dear friend of mine.


We became vegetarians together. That way we wouldn’t eat each other.

Not for our health, as Isaac Bashevis Singer might say, but for the health of the chickens.

5 January 1968   Rainbow Ballroom    Fresno     California

6 January 1968      Sacramento State College       Steve Brown captured this lovely image of Janis.   I think she liked him.

12 January 1968           Shrine Auditorium      Los Angeles

13 January 1968       Barnes Park Bandshell         Monterey Park          California

16-21 January 1968     Golden Bear Club    Huntington Beach    California     I always liked playing here.

25 January 1968      Fillmore Auditorium     San Francisco

26-27 January 1968  Winterland  San Francisco    John Byrne Cooke, son of Alistair Cooke, Spanish major at Harvard, was our estimable road manager and good friend.

I don”t want to say that John is tall, but here he is hovering over Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Mimi Fariña and Joan Baez.

John writes western novels, he’s a photographer, and he introduced us to a whole new world when we went East in 1967.

He is now writing a book about his days with Janis in Big Brother, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt.

John took this photograph of Debbie Green and Mimi Fariña.

Albert Grossman, the schvitzing Svengali, our manager, the gray cloud, and now he’s gone.

28 January 1968       Avalon Ballroom     San Francisco

Chet and Lori Helms with Bill Graham.   Bill is doing the talking. Imagine that.

2 February 1968     The Cheetah    Los Angeles

3 February 1968     Earl Warren Showgrounds     Santa Barbara

9 February 1968      Santa Clara County Fairgrounds        Santa Clara      California

10 February 1968       Community Concourse Exhibit Hall  San Diego

16 February 1968  Palestra  Philadelphia    A “palestra” was originally a wrestling school in Greece (palaistra). In Italian, the word now means “gymnasium.”

17 February 1968   Anderson Theatre  New York City

Elliott Landy took some very sweet photographs of nearly everyone at that time.

The lower East Side was a magic place to be in those days.

This restaurant was right next door to where we played.

Colors, smells, enthusiastic people who were personal, direct and kind, rather the opposite of the stereotype of New Yorkers.

Ukrainian easter eggs, Afghan coats, secondhand shops, it was like a giant bazaar.

23-24 February 1968   Psychedelic Supermarket Boston     I walked into a store in Boston, asked for yoghurt and the grocer almost spat at me.

25 February 1968  Rhode Island School of Design  Providence  Rhode Island       Yes, folks, there was a time when yoghurt was seen as exotic.

I lived in Paris 1962-1964 and a friend there was feeding yoghurt (“yaourt”) to his baby. First time I tasted it. Delicious. Tastier then… and there.

1-2 March 1968      The Grande Ballroom    Detroit   Michigan

Back in New York, in Albert Grossman’s office listening to what we did at The Grande. One of those moments of truth.

Bill Graham becomes the king of New York.

8 March 1968   Fillmore East opens.   Linda made this poster.

We were living in the Chelsea Hotel, once home of Mark Twain, Eugene O’Neill, Thomas Wolfe and many other heroes of our youth.

William Burroughs lived there. So did Brendan Behan, O. Henry, Virgil Thomson, Larry Rivers, Charles Bukowski, Patti Smith and let’s not forget Sid and Nancy.

Jane Fonda lived there. So did Julie Christie. I visited each of them there. We were just friends. Coworkers, really.

9 March 1968      Wesleyan University     Middletown   Connecticut       Janis is playing Combination of the Two.

15-17 March 1968   Electric Factory   Philadelphia      I always loved Philadelphia. The people I met there seemed very soulful. Still do.

Visiting the Columbia Records vault, New York City. Lots of treasure there.

And recording at the Black Rock.  Columbia Recording Studio.  I once did a session here at seven in the morning.

The Black Rock is at 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue.

I was very excited to be on this street and I walked west at night, hearing the ghosts of Monk, Bird, Diz, Bud Powell, Bill DeArengo, Milt Jackson, J.C. Heard, Ray Brown.

I walked 52nd Street whistling the tune they wrote and played here. That middle part is something else.

22-24 March 1968     The Cheetah       Chicago

2-6 April  The Generation  New York City     B.B. King inspired us this night with his sacred words and music.

7 April 1968  Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, Joni Mitchell.

10 April 1968             Anaheim Convention Center

Tuning, always tuning.  In the Renaissance they said that if a lute player lived to be eighty, he would have spent sixty years tuning. That’s about right

11 April 1968       We play Summertime on ABC-TV Hollywood Palace.

11 April 1968             Fillmore Auditorium with Booker T and the MGs and Iron Butterfly.

12-13 April 1968     Winterland    San Francisco    Now we’re home with our friends, practiced, proficient, professional and prone to perilous propensities.

Don’t ask me what that means. Well, actually, I know what it means, but am loathe to elucidate.

This gig at Winterland was recorded.

14 April 1968             Carousel Ballroom

19 April 1968                   Selland Arena             Fresno

20 April 1968    University of California     Santa Barbara

24 April 1968            Straight Theatre          San Francisco

26 April 1968      Foothill College      Los Altos      California

27 April 1968     San Bernardino    California

1 May 1968   College Field   Chico State College   Chico  California    Chico is close to Paradise. I bet Donna Patterson can come up with a better line than that.

2 May 1968                 Carousel Ballroom                San Francisco

1968 3-4 May   The Shrine Expo Center      Los Angeles

3-5 May 1968

3-6 May 1068

10 May 1968       Cal-Poly State University     San Luis Obispo     California

11 May 1968

12 May 1968    San Fernando Valley State College     Northridge    California

15 May 1968

Fairly typical set list at this time.

16 May 1968    This doesn’t look like one of James’ usual guitars.

17 May 1968    Freeborn Hall   University of California at Davis

18 May 1968   Santa Clara County Fairgrounds  Santa Clara   Northern California Folk Rock Festival

This was a special gig, quite memorable.

Sunny, beautiful day, Janis relaxed and happy, sitting in the grass with me and the other children.

19 May 1968      Civic Auditorium  Pasadena   James singing Easy Rider.   “And I will even buy you some cardboard fruit.”

21 May 1968        Bermuda Palms     San Rafael    California  I used to play saxophone in this building with a big band.

24-26 May 1968   Carousel Ballroom with the Clara Ward Singers.     Five errors ?   Dave, Janis, Sam, James and Peter.  That was easy.

31 May 1968

9 June 1968   Whisky-A-Go-Go    Hollywood

Always so much going on at The Whisky.

13 June 1968     Fillmore Auditorium

14-15 June 1968     Winterland      San Francisco

16 June 1968      Fillmore            Matrix Benefit

22-23 June 1968        Carousel Ballroom

Owsley Stanley put us on tape many times. SONY has just released his recording of this engagement.

24 June 1968      Burlingame Country Club     Burlingame  California

26-29 June 1968                   Denver

Part five next week.   I love you all, you know that, right ?  OK, just making sure.

Sam Andrew


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