Big Brother & The Holding Company
Although the late Janis Joplin made Big Brother and the Holding Company famous, her short stint in the band was both a blessing and a curse. Before Joplin, nobody really cared too much for the San Francisco acid rock band, and following her departure, nobody really cared too much for the San Francisco acid rock band (which continues to play in small clubs with a lead singer who likes to impersonate Joplin's gritty growl). But in their defense, Big Brother and the Holding Company could hold their own. They hit the Haight-Ashbury music scene with a loosey-goosey, psychedelic take on blues-rock. Early recordings reveal the band's ability to teeter back musically, making listeners feel like they're falling into a chair before suddenly snapping up when the band hits the groove harder than at the start. Truth be told, Big Brother weren't too excited about adding Joplin as their frontwoman, but San Francisco music promoter Chet Helms made a good case for it, and Joplin ended up kick-starting their career in a way they couldn't achieve on their own. Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, picked up their contract, and in 1968 they released Cheap Thrills for Columbia Records. Featuring underground comic book hero Robert Crumb's artwork on the sleeve, it became an instant classic. Joplin left the band to go solo at the end of '68, and they never enjoyed anything resembling the No. 1 chart success of Cheap Thrills.