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R.I.P. Sam Andrew, founder of Big Brother And The Holding Company

Sam Andrew, founder of Big Brother And The Holding Company, has died. He was 73 and had suffered a heart attack a few weeks ago.

Andrew and Peter Albin founded Big Brother in San Francisco in the mid ’60s, although the band didn’t really break through until the group’s manager, Chet Helms, persuaded Janis Joplin to front the band in 1966. The group soon signed to Mainstream Records and released an album, then moved to Columbia for Cheap Thrills, which went to No. 1 on the U.S. top 200 on the strength of tracks like “Piece Of My Heart.”

In 1968, Andrew and Joplin left Big Brother to start the Kozmic Blues Band. That group released one record, 1969’s I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, before Andrew left to return to Big Brother, who would disband in 1972.

After Big Brother broke up, Andrew moved to New York, studied harmony at the New School For Social Research, and scored several films. He also wrote two string quartets and a symphony.


In 1987, Big Brother And The Holding Company reunited and Andrew returned to the fold. He toured with the group until recently, even though the group underwent a number of lineup changes during that time. Andrew also provided music direction for Love, Janis, a stage musical that debuted around the country in 2001 and was written by Laura Joplin, the sister of the famous frontwoman.

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