September 13, 2018

Candid Behind the Scenes Photos of Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company Rehearsing for the Summer of Love

Bob Seidemann took photographs that graced the covers of some of the 1960s and ’70s most iconic record albums. But when he was hanging with Janis Joplin and the rest of Big Brother and the Holding Company in San Francisco, he was just a friend of theirs, so the pictures he took were mostly candid shots. His fame as a photographer would come later. Now, we get to take a peek at the pictures he took during their rehearsals in 1967, some for the very first time.
“I heard that a band called Big Brother and the Holding Company was playing at a place on Fillmore, so I went.” – Bob Seidemann
The black-and-white, Kodak Tri X Pan photographs Seidemann took of the band rehearsing in the warehouse appear to be from two different days, identifiable because of the change in clothes worn by band members. Joplin’s garb is easiest to describe. In one group of photographs, she’s wearing a T-shirt with the JOB cigarette-papers woman on it. This was probably not a random choice on her part—the image had been popularized by artists Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse on a poster for a Big Brother show dated October, 7, 1966, at the Avalon Ballroom.

One of dozens of proof sheets of black-and-white photographs taken by the band’s friend and resident photographer, Bob Seidemann.

The rest of Joplin’s attire—pin-striped jeans tied at the waist by a braided belt, a pair of kitten-heeled sandals beneath her feet—is defiantly casual, which is surprising since these photographs were definitely taken after Big Brother’s triumphant performances at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967, which means Joplin was on her way to being a full-fledged rock star, and all the wretched excess that implies.

Foremost among these hardworking musicians were the members of Big Brother and the Holding Company, which performed 135 concerts during 1967, occasionally grinding out two or three gigs in a single day.


JanisRainierSm Janis Joplin of Big Brother and the Holding Company at the band's rehearsal space in 1967.

Big Brother and the Holding Company in the spring of 1966 behind the Old Spaghetti Factory, where drummer Dave Getz (far left) worked part time.

Before Janis Joplin jined the group in June 1966, lead guitarist James Gurley has been the group’s most popular member.

During rehearsals, the band would try out new material, iron out problem spots in existing songs, or change arrangements.

Sam Andrew, Peter Albin, Dave Getz and James Gurley of Big Brother and the Holding Band

Big Brother and the Holding Company, circa 1967

Janis Joplin arriving for a rehearsal at Big Brother’s warehouse at Golden Gate and Van Ness avenues in San Francisco.

Joplin and Albin, 1967

Joplin and Albin

Talking Peter Albin and Janis Joplin listen to a colleague in the band's rehearsal space.

Drummer Dave Getz discussing a song’s arrangement

In a photo by Bob Cato, photographer Bob Seidemann is seen holding a band member’s baby while talking with Big Brother’s road manager, David Richards..

Lead guitarist James Gurley

Janis Joplin playing Dave Getz’s drum set.

Sam Andrew (left) and Dave Getz

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Peter Albin

The poster behind Joplin’s head is for a Steve Miller concert in September of 1967, which helps date this photo to the fall of 1967.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin played the guiro on songs such as Combination of the Two.

Sam Andrew weighs in while James Gurley looks on.

(Photos by Bob Seidemann, via Collectors Weekly)




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