Big Brother history, part five, July to December 1968


July-December 1968         Big Brother is watching you.

Watching you.


Thinking about Chet Helms.


5 July 1968    Concord Coliseum     Concord    California

The Concord Coliseum began as a grocery store. Then it was a holy hall of harmony,

and now it has become a Petco.     O tempora, O mores.



6 July 1968   Santa Rosa Fairgrounds    Santa Rosa    California

La Combinación de los Dos



7 July 1968    Golden Gate Park      San Francisco

San Francisco 1941 (2)

a prov

10 July 1968      Provo Park      Berkeley

bob janis


12-13 July 1968         Kaleidoscope   Los Angeles



16-18 July 1968   Fillmore   San Francisco



20 July 1968     Lagoon Opera House    Ogden Utah

Combination of the Two


I remember taking rides on these fast little cars that could turn on a dime.

Backstage where the magic happens.



22 July 1968        Westbury Music Fair  Long Island




25 July 1968   Columbia Records Convention    San Juan Puerto Rico   Blood, Sweat and Tears were so good that night.

David Richards holding our attention with one of his great stories.  He painted my guitar and Janis’ Porsche.

27 July 1968    Newport Folk Festival  Newport  Rhode Island

John Byrne Cooke took this one at Newport.


We had always dreamed about attending this event…


…and now we’re playing it.

janis newport sit beer

An ad for Cheap Thrills:   Notice the emphasis here on the nonverbal experience. Very interesting for an ad from a corporation. But, hey, it’s the 60s.


2-3 August 1968    Fillmore East with the Staple Singers.   Big thrill for us to be with the Staples.


Gerde’s Folk City



4 August 1968    First Annual Newport Pop Festival   Orange County Fairgrounds   Costa Mesa  California      This was the first music event to attract more than 100,000 people. Trouble is, I can’t remember if we played there or not, and you would think I would remember something that big.

Some of the books say we “may have played there,” but we aren’t on the posters.  We had just played Newport, Rhode Island, only a week before, so the two gigs may be conflated here.

Myra Friedman wrote the first important biography of Janis. She won a New York Times book prize for it.

Some Jewish high school kids in St. Louis, 1949.  Myra Friedman is in the first row left.

dolgushkin work

One Stop Shopping:    Get your mind expanded and your check cashed.



9 August 1968  Kiel Auditorium    St. Louis



10 August 1968       Forest Park                    St. Louis

14 August 1968      Indiana Beach     Monticello      Indiana


16-17 August 1968   Aragon-Cheetah     Chicago


18 August 1968     Tyrone Guthrie Theatre   Minneapolis


23 August 1968  Singer Bowl  Flushing   Queens     New York City       Singer Bowl  Flushing  Queens…   Now, could you make up a name like that ?

Jimi broke a string right on the first song. He said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to make it up to you in spades.”      He did too.


30 August 1968    Palace of Fine Arts  San Francisco

liz lomax


BBHC 6 Sept 1968 Hollywood Bowl

6 September 1968             Hollywood Bowl


10 September 1968



12-14 September 1968       Their art will last longer than what we did.  We see the aulos player on the Greek vase, but we don’t hear her music.


After we played Pasadena, we hopped in a limousine, and the fans piled on top. I was afraid we would be crushed.

15 September 1968   Rose Bowl    Pasadena

henry diltz

Henry Diltz’ photo of Sally Mann



22 September 1968   Del Mar Fairgrounds     San Diego


27 September 1968          University of California at Irvine



28 September 1968  San Diego      I got a ticket for driving a hundred miles an hour to this gig.  ”The toils of the law,” is such a great way to phrase that.


4 October 1968  Public Hall   Cleveland   Little did I realize then that Cleveland would loom large in the Big Brother legend.  Cleveland was the first place where I was music director of Love, Janis in 1999, and I made a CD there in December 2011 with Mary Bridget Davies, Ben Nieves and Jim Wall, all Clevelanders. And of course the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is there, even if they won’t let us in.

5 October 1968    State University of New York    Buffalo        Monsieur Gurley


10 October 1968   Quaker City Rock Festival    Philadelphia


11 October 1968     War Memorial Auditorium     Syracuse


13 October 1968      Music Hall      Cincinnati

I kissed Susan Ammon, third from left, then, and was lucky enough to kiss her again on Earth Day, forty-four years later.

15 October 1968    Grande Ballroom       Detroit

18 October 1968     Penn State University   University Park


19 October 1968  The Spectrum  Philadelphia

20 October 1968   Alexandria Roller Rink     Alexandria   Virginia

Jeff Beck was supposed to be a terror to work with, the bad British blues boy, but I found him to be good natured and polite. Plus, he played an SG as James and I did.



25 October 1968   Curry Hicks Cage    University of Massachusetts    Amherst


26 October 1968    Worcester Polytechnic institute    Worcester   Massachusetts



1-2 November 1968  Electric Factory Philadelphia

8 Nov 1968

8 November 1968   Rocky Point   Warwick  Rhode Island


9 November 1968     Woolsey Hall    Yale University     New Haven   Connecticut

10 November 1968        White Plains     New York

Very characteristic view of John and Janis.   I can hear them talking.

11 November 1968   Ridge Tech Arena      Braintree     Massachusetts


12 November 1968  Jersey City  New Jersey     Hey, we finally got rid of that messy “Big Brother and the Holding Company” part altogether.

14 November 1968          Hartford     Connecticut       I visit Mark Twain’s very interesting home every time I go there.


15 November 1968    Hunter College   New York City   I was seething with anticipation. I thought maybe Sparta, Corinth, Mycenae and Athens had decided to sponsor us at this Pan Hellenic event.

But, then, I realized. Oh, it’s just Animal House, a lot of fraternities and sororities. Well, OK. It was a fun gig. I love Hunter College.


16 November 1968     State University of New York     Stony Brook

23 November 1968      Houston Music Hall    Houston   Texas


24 November 1968       Coliseum     Dallas

26 November 1968     Denver Auditorium        Denver

29 November 1968    Eagles Auditorium     Seattle

30 November 1968     Pacific Coliseum   Vancouver     British Columbia


1 December 1968  Family Dog Benefit      Avalon Ballroom      San Francisco


2 December 1968

Bobby Neuwirth, serious artist, good songwriter, fellow traveler, intelligent, witty court jester. He wrote Mercedes Benz with Janis and Michael McClure.



18 December 1968     One of the first, if not THE first rehearsal of The Kozmic Blues Band with Michael Bloomfield as music director.

Mike was a consummate musician, gifted and highly intelligent.

Al Kooper and Mike had an idea. They would make an album and hire Norman Rockwell to do the cover. I wish I would have thought of that, but I would have tried to come up with a story in the image, since that’s the way that Norman Rockwell works.  Al and Michael were just portrayed as a duo in the final cover. Rather static and not taking advantage of Rockwell’s brilliant narrative painting style. They should have tried for some kind of story.

Robert Crumb did our Cheap Thrills album cover, of course, but, then, for our other albums we could have had Mr. Rockwell do one, Al Hirschfeld (the line king) do another, and David Levine do a third. These guys were all for hire, just as I was/am.  They would have felt proud and connected to do a Big Brother cover, and we would have felt even more proud and connected to be associated with such great artists.

Well, maybe next time.  Anyway, I loved working with Michael at those early Kozmic Blues Band rehearsals.In fact, when I did the guitar part on Little Girl Blue at the Black Rock in New York, Michael was right by my side guiding me through the chord changes.

He was always helpful, lavish with praise and very supportive. Mike did the slide solo on One Good Man, but didn’t credit himself. Maybe because of contractual obligations elsewhere ?

When Dylan went electric at Newport, Michael Bloomfield was the Electric.


In the 1950s, the Cedar Tavern in Manhattan was the artists’ watering hole. The drinks were cheap and it was close to the lofts and studios. Jackson Pollock was there. Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, everybody from that abstract expressionist scene was there, really.


I was in the Cedar Tavern one time and said  the word “divisive,” rhyming it with “dismissive,” and the most beautiful woman whirled around on her stool and said, “That’s the first time I ever heard any one pronounce that correctly.” (To this day, I’m not sure how to pronounce “divisive” and say it differently each time, but each time, you may be sure, I think of that beautiful woman.)

Le Roi Jones, as he was known then, and Diane Di Prima, probably my favorite beat poet, in The Cedar Tavern.

Carl Solomon, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, typical denizens of The Cedar Tavern.

Mickey Ruskin founded Max’s Kansas City at 213 Park Avenue South (Seventeenth Street) which, despite the higher prices and the greater distance from the painters’ lofts, became the artists’ locale for the 1960s as The Cedar Tavern was for the 1950s. Big Brother and the Holding Company went often to Max’s and I practically lived there in the 1970s, because I had a loft quite close by on Twentieth Street, just down the block from Danny Fields. Mickey cashed my checks and put up with a lot of nonsense from me. I used to sit at the bar and draw the sculptures. Here is Mickey Ruskin (right) with John Chamberlain.

Dorothy Dean always sat by the door at Max’s. She was the guardian of the gates. She told me once or twice that she had danced The Tennessee Waltz in Tennessee with Tennessee Williams.  Too bad Tennessee Ernie Ford wasn’t involved, then they could have had a Tennessee to the fourth power.

Dorothy was once a fact checker at The New Yorker, a fact that impressed me greatly. She hung out with a lot of gay men, but she hated the term ‘fag hag,’ so called herself a ‘fruit fly.’

Dorothy was one of The Factory people and she was in several Warhol films. Here she is inspecting Norman Levine while being serenaded by Eric Anderson.

I liked the clientèle at Max’s, even the ones who weren’t as glorious as these characters. Andy Warhol held court in the back room of the restaurant. Tim Buckley was a great guy, just like his son in many ways.

Debbie Harry, already quite beautiful, was frequently our waitress and she was a good one.

Lenny Kaye did his time at Max’s. He had roughly the same relationship with Patti Smith that I had with Janis Joplin.

Lenny is soulful, very intelligent, writes books, teaches at Rutgers, I believe, and is just an all around good man.

Danny Fields, an “executive at Elektra,” as he is often billed, was a kind of  PR man for Max’s since it opened. Danny brought Jim Morrison to the restaurant, and he introduced Iggy Pop to David Bowie there. Here Danny is with Tammy Faye Starlight.

And somewhat earlier with Nico.

Many people at Max’s were quite well known and many were not, but all were interesting. It was quite a scene. Some of the people in this photograph are: David Bowie, Danny Fields (hey, Danny, where are you now?), Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim Morrison (peeing in a bottle), Lou Reed, Patti Smith. I’m there too. I think I see Lenny Kaye. We’re not posing. This is a typical Max’s scene out on the sidewalk on a summer night. David Bennett Cohen is there. We used to rush out on the sidewalk to see whose limousine was arriving.

It’s funny what you remember about a place. I’ll bet that everyone who went to Max’s remembers the little bowls of dried garbanzo beans (chick peas). Everyone ate them like candy while they talked.

regalo di natale

Very salty, so of course they needed washing down with something.

See you next week?

See you next week?

Sam Andrew    James Gurley   John Byrne Cooke


One thought on “Big Brother history, part five, July to December 1968

  1. Saw Janis Joplin and Big Brother with the Jeff Beck Group at the Alexandria Roller Rink in 1968. Great show. Janis had a bottle of Southern Comfort on the front edge of the stage which she’d slug down occasionally and I was surprised at how small she really was.

Comments are closed.