Dave Getz: We Were Like a Punk Band


SKF NOTE: When my neighbor, Ed Matthews, told me Columbia Records was breaking up Big Brother and the Holding Company, and putting singer Janis Joplin in front of a horn band — I was visibly and vocally disappointed. Mr. Mathews was head A&R man at Columbia records then and a great friend and mentor to me. But, Big Brother was a great rock band that played with an impossible to duplicate spirit.

I saw Big Brother, with Janis Joplin, perform at Westbury Music Theater on Long Island, NY in 1968 — and drummer Dave Getz, fun to watch, definitely played with a jazz drummer’s sensibility. Getz’s approach to the drums — including his obligatory solo during Big Brother’s show — was similar to John Densmore with The Doors .

Piece of My Heart is probably the best known song from Big Brother with Janis. But I’ve always been partial to the band’s Combination of the Two — which I’m posting here.

It was good seeing David Talbot’s 5/4/17 report on Dave Getz. Glad to know he is doing well.


Big Brother drummer holding onto the times that slipped away
By David Talbot
May 4, 2017 Updated: May 5, 2017 10:26am

Last Saturday afternoon, I lunched with Dave Getz, the drummer who rode to rock immortality with Big Brother and the Holding Company.

At 77, Getz defies the old adage that if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there. He was there, and he still has a photographic recall of much of it. But his most evocative memories are of the earlier bohemian days in San Francisco, before the media-branded Summer of Love.

Getz arrived here in 1960 from New York, where he had grown up in a crowded Flatbush apartment….

Getz fled to the West Coast as a 20-year-old budding painter to attend the San Francisco Art Institute. Getz…was a jazz drummer who had played gigs in the Catskills, but…decided against a music career….

.But…in San Francisco in the early ’60s, …the concert posters, not the music, …first attracted Getz. [P]articularly…the artwork…for a new band called Big Brother and the Holding Company.

[H]e found himself trying out for the band….

“It’s hard for me to listen today to some of Big Brother’s music from those days,” Getz said. “I had the most experience in the band, and our music wasn’t precise. Sometimes the guitars were out of tune. But we were like a punk band; we had incredible energy. I just wanted to play as hard and fast as I could. I would come offstage completely soaked.”

When Janis Joplin joined the band, it was like being strapped to an even more powerful rocket. “At the start, Janis wasn’t a great blues singer, but she absorbed things much quicker. It was inevitable that she would leave the band someday.

“I was the first one in the band to get to know her.”

It was the easy camaraderie between San Francisco’s young musicians — before they became rock stars — that Getz remembers most fondly. [B]efore…their fateful trajectory toward stardom and addiction, they were just friends and fellow musicians.

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