Big Brother and the Holding Company, part three. July to December 1967

Well, hello, everybody !

July to Decmber 1967

This is the continuing story of Big Brother and the Holding Company.

The third of twenty-five chapters.

1 July 1967     Avalon Ballroom    Quicksilver      Mount Rushmore      Horns of Plenty

“Big Brother and the Holding Company ?”        How did you get a name like that ?

2 July 1967         Mount Tamalpais          Marin County, California.

I remember I had a hard time driving down off that mountain after this gig. We had a 1955 Cadillac hearse which was unwieldy anyway, and I didn’t know Marin County yet, and especially Mount Tamalpais, so I had a fun time negotiating all those curves, peaks and valleys.

Anyway, on a beautiful spring day in 1965, Chet Helms held in his hands two legal tablets full of quirky, eccentric, purposefully puerile names.

Names like Tom Slow and his Sarcastic Grand Mo. Or Big Bother and the Folding Company. Or Country Schmo and The Knish. Or Quicksliver Military Service.

4-6 July 1967         Fillmore              Bo Diddly        Big Joe Williams

7-8 July 1967    Circle Star Theatre     San Carlos    California

Theatres in the round can be quite tricky. Westbury Music Fair on Long Island is another one. When they begin revolving there is a slight jerk that you should be ready for.

On one legal tablet, Chet had the name “Big Brother,” no doubt prompted by a recent reading of  Orwell.

14-15 July 1967               Continental Ballroom grand opening.

20-21 July 1967  Avalon Ballroom  Mount Rushmore   On another legal tablet page, Chet had the words “The Holding Company.”

Holding ? Why Holding ?

23 July 1967   Straight Theatre    San Francisco  Grand Opening  Freedom Highway    The Phoenix    Wildflower    Grateful Dead

Mount Rushmore  Quicksilver Messenger Service   New Salvation Army Band   Mother Earth  Country Joe and The Fish   The Charlatans   Blue Cheer

28-30 July 1967     California Hall      San Francisco

“Holding” was slang at that time for “possessing,” as in, “Hey, man, are you holding any drugs ?”

31 July 1967                     Haight Ashbury Free Clinic Benefit

8 August 1967  Denver Dog   Denver    Colorado  A band at this event played Bye, Bye, Baby. The guitar player even copied my mistakes. First time I heard that.

10 August 1967  Kaiser Dome San Bernardino   So, on one yellow tablet Chet had “Big Brother” and on the other he had “the Holding Company.”

11-12 August 1967  Continental Ballroom   Santa Clara   California          ”Big Brother ?”         “Holding Company ?”

13 August 1967  Avalon Ballroom    ”Big Brother” was big government. “”Holding Company” was corporate government. Corporations weren’t people yet.

16 August 1967  Golden Gate Park       The Supreme Court was still an honorable institution.

Sharrie Gomez and I doing a Macy’s ad.

24-27 August 1967           Avalon Ballroom              Bo Diddly        Bukka White        The Salvation Army Banned

28 August 1967  Lindley Meadow   Golden Gate Park          ”Big Brother ?”     “Holding Company ?”      Very political.

Country Joe and The Fish were a political group, but their name was non political. They should have had our name and we should have had theirs.

Country Janis and The Fish would have been perfect.

We were not “political” at all in the Berkeley sense. We were political just by being who we were. Our politics were non proselytizing, spiritual, private.

Joe MacDonald had a difficult time understanding this then and he may still.

So…       “Big Brother ?”      ”The Holding Company ?”  For a group of people like us ?

We had a shoot in Sausalito at the Heliport with Irving Penn, master of photography, another not overtly yet intensely political artist.

This is the way Irving Peen’s portrait of us and the Grateful Dead looks on the walls of The National Portrait Gallery, London.

1-3 September 1967     Straight Theatre    Haight Ashbury             San Francisco.

4 September 1967   La Dolphine Estate  Debutante Party   Burlingame  California

6 September 1967

8-9 September 1967  Family Dog  Denver

You probably cannot see that Janis and I are committing some kind of nefarious act over there under the tree.

Talk about truth in advertising.

15 September 1967  Canceled.      Anyway, so Chet put the names together. Big Brother and the Holding Company.

James Gurley said, “Hey, how is a name that long going to fit on a marquee or a record label ?”

And I thought, “You mean there’s going to be a marquee… and a record label ?”

September 16, 1967     Monterey Jazz Festival     T-Bone Walker   B. B. King   Richie Havens   The Clara Ward Singers    Afternoon Blues Show

T-Bone Walker was my guitar hero when I was 14, him and Charlie Christian, so I was very excited to see him here.

19-24 September 1967       Golden Bear       Huntington Beach   California with Big Mama Thornton.

5  October 1967   The Matrix  San Francisco     James Gurley’s question was prescient. Big Brother and the Holding Company has always been a difficult fit.

On marquees, on record labels, on book titles, philosophically, spiritually… a difficult fit.

6 October 1967  The Ark   Sausalito   California

7 October 1967      Avalon Ballroom             See ?  The version below might fit us a bit bother, I mean, better.

8 October 1967             Santa Clara Fairgrounds              Santa Clara          California

13-14 October 1967     Eagles Auditorium      Seattle   This engagement was also canceled, I believe, and we played at The Ark instead.

To make the name Big Brother and the Holding Company fit on a poster, we have to squeeze it, so that our name is smaller. Boo, hoo.

15-16 October 1967                Avalon Ballroom

20 October 1967           Contra Costa College     San Pablo    California

27 October 1967   Cal State    Hayward    California

28 October 1967        McNear’s Beach             San Rafael         California

28-29 October 1967       Peacock Country Club            San Rafael

31 October 1967   Trip Or Freak  Hallowe’en Ball    Winterland    San Francisco

2-3 November 1967      Fillmore          San Francisco            Richie Havens

?  November 1967           Golden Bear Club            Huntington Beach          California

4 November 1967           Winterland             San Francisco           Richie Havens    Pink Floyd

4 November 1967    The Ark          Baltimore Steam Packet       Moby Grape

13 November 1967         Avalon Ballroom             Grateful Dead        Quicksilver Messenger Service

16 November 1967           Cubist stock certificate.

Lisa Law took this one in San Geronimo Valley not far from where I am sitting now.

This event never happened.  In any year.      I wish it would have.

23-25 November 1967     The Family Dog presents Thanksgiving Turkey Strut and Trot at The Avalon.

24 November 1967   California Hall           San Francisco

25 November 1967          Avalon Ballroom           Mount Rushmore

1 December 1967   The Matrix    San Francisco    Sandy Bull    Dan Hicks

2 December 1967

14-17 December 1967                      Whisky-A-Go-Go                    Hollywood

17 December 1967

18 December 1967             California Hall

19 December 1967       Shrine Auditorium      Los Angeles    We became acquainted with Connie and Renee Pappas somewhere along here.

They were good friends and the next time we played the Golden Bear or the Shrine, they had a party for us at their house.

20 December 1967            Whisky-A-Go-Go              Hollywood

22 December 1967             Turlock Fairgrounds             Turlock           California

25 December 1967                   Sokol Hall                Christmas Party

26-31 December 1967                    Winterland              San Francisco

31 December 1967

Happy New Year !

Part four next week. See you then.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company   Alain Bertrand painted this.   Notice the billboard down the street to your left.

     Alain, je te remercie mille fois. My good friend.