Page 45 Big Brother and the Holding Company

I asked Peter Albin why he had Long Johns on when all the other band members were naked. He said “I was cold.” – Jerilyn

Page 45 Big Brother in bed

1967 in the Haight Ashbury, Big Brother and the Holding Company holding court in bed.

The trolleys run along Haight Street pretty often; the tourists snarl up the traffic a bit, but still you can get from the Oracle office to Fillmore Street, change and arrive at the Fillmore or Winterland in less than twenty minutes. At fifteen cents for the entire journey, that’s not bad at all. The Avalon is a little further away, but just as accessible, and nowadays often more worthwhile. But the ballrooms have lost their importance. They were vital once; without Bill Graham, and the hard work and business knowhow he threw into the Fillmore when the scene was starting, there might never have been an SF Sound to talk about. Give him credit, and give Ralph Gleascn credit, without whose enthusiastic columns in the SF Chronicle the city would have no doubt shut down those psychedelic superstructures before you could say “building inspector!’ And Ken Kesey, the man whose Trips Festivals irrevocably tied together rock & roll and light shows and the head community. The Family Dog, illuminator Bill Ham, The Charlatans, the Matrix and Jefferson Airplane, all those originators who now cling to their place in history with alarming awareness that after two years the past is buried in the dust of centuries.

The ballrooms have given way to environments even more closely knit into the community. The great outdoors, for one; the Panhandle is only two blocks down from Haight Street, and on an average weekend you’ll hear everything from Big Brother & the Holding Company down to the local teen group playing top hits offkey. And it’s all free, free not just from admission charges but from walls and stuffy air and hassles about coming and going; free so that the music is as much a part of your life as a tree in blossom. You can stop and embrace it, or pass on by. The Panhandle is the San Francisco Sound today, the music of the street, the music of the people who live there. The ballrooms, obsolete in terms of the community, have been turned into induction centers — the teenyboppers, the college students, the curious adults come down to the Fillmore to see what’s going on, and they do see, and pretty soon they’re part of it. They may not go directly to Haight Street with flowers in their hair (though many of them do), but they change, they shift their points of view, their minds drop out of Roger Williams and into the Grateful Dead. (Crawdaddy, August 1967)

Page 45 Pigpen

Pigpen sporting his biker look

David Crosby of the Byrds

Page 45 David Crosby

“The only hope we have is our children and the seeds we give them and the gardens we plant together.”
-Richard Brautigan

Photos: Top to bottom – Ron Rakow, Gene Anthony, Grant Jacobs