Cheap Thrills — Big Brother & the Holding Company

On Oct. 12, 1968, two months after its release, Big Brother and the Holding Company had the #1 album in the US with Cheap Thrills.

The psychedelic band from San Francisco was fronted by the passionate and powerful vocalist Janis Joplin. The group had garnered attention after their performance at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival in the summer of 1967, and Clive Davis, head of Columbia Records, worked hard to get them out of their recording contract so their next album would be on his label.

Cheap Thrills had the most elaborate graphic design Columbia Records had ever given to a rock album. It featured an illustration by underground comix cartoonist Robert Crumb which was intended to be the back of the album, but Joplin, a Crumb fan, insisted that the illustration be the cover.

The song “Piece of My Heart” was released as a single and quickly entered the Top 20 in the autumn of 1968. The band had found the song from a 1967 single (on London Records) that had been recorded by Aretha Franklin’s sister, Erma Franklin. Joplin’s version of the blues had a more fiery and daring interpretation for the song.

About poppaculture

I am a seasoned consumer of modern (and not so modern) culture.
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6 Responses to Cheap Thrills — Big Brother & the Holding Company

  1. Mr. Geezer says:

    Good ol’ R Crumb. Of all the counter-cultural characters of the 1960s and 1970s, he has to be my favorite. The most, um, important … a very important cartoonist, for sure.

    In this video clip he comments about Janis Joplin, that album cover, and the Rolling Stones, always makes me laugh:

    It’s easy to understand those who say he’s sexist and racist. He is. But also just a brilliant, brilliant visual artist and story teller. As good as anyone, ever, at that art and craft. He got six-hundred bucks for drawing that album cover. –Mr. Geezer

  2. Benjamin says:

    I’ve been living in a little box tucked away in an attic, apparently. This is the first time I came across Erma Franklin, the sister of Aretha, who I had no idea even existed as a vocal artist.

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