Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist James Gurley passed away yesterday from a heart attack. He was 69 years old and just two days shy before his 70th birthday. Big Brother are probably best remembered as the band that jump started the career of Janis Joplin. Joplin became lead singer of the band around 1966. Joplin, Gurley, guitarist Sam Andrews, bassist Pete Ablin, and drummer David Getz made up the line-up for their 1967 debut album. After playing at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, the band got bigger. A year later the classic Cheap Thrills album was released. Although Joplin left to pursue a solo career in late 1968, the band continued until 1973. Since 1987, the band had been playing in the nosalgia circuit.
Gurley and Joplin also had an affair, with Gurley still married. Nancy, James' wife, eventually forgave him and Janis. When Nancy died from a heroin overdose, Janis dedicated her I Got Dem Ol Kosmic Blues Again, Mama! album in 1969. For two years, James was blamed for injecting the heroin. James was later given probation time.
Rest in peace, James.