Sam Andrew, Founding Guitarist of Big Brother & the Holding Company, Dead at 73

Janis Joplin
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Janis Joplin in 1969

Sam Andrew, best known as the founding guitarist of Big Brother and the Holding Company -- the band that introduced Janis Joplin to the world -- died Thursday. He was 73. 

The news was originally released in a statement via the Big Brother and the Holding Company Facebook page that read, "Yesterday, ten weeks after his heart attack and the open-heart surgery that followed it, Sam lost his gallant fight to hold onto the life he lived so well. He died peacefully in Elise's arms at 5:15 pm. There will be much more to say about him in the days to come and there will come a time when we will gather together to remember him. Now is a time for Elise to regather her strength after the long vigil she has kept and the vital role she played in overseeing Sam's care. For now we can all remember him in our own ways until we can remember him together. He lived his life in music and art and a loving marriage. It doesn't get much better than that."

Andrew founded Big Brother and the Holding Company with Peter Albin in 1965 and were soon joined by guitarist James Gurley, drummer Chuck Jones (later displaced by David Getz) and eventually Janis Joplin. Andrew was a consistent writer with the group, and contributed songs including "Call on Me" and "Combination of the Two". 

In 1968, Andrew and Joplin quit Big Brother to form the Kozmic Blues Band, recording one album called I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! But the following year Andrew returned to his former band. 

Through Big Brothers' breakup in 1972 and reunion in 1987, Andrew continued with the outfit, and later went on to form his own eponymous group as well -- the Sam Andrew Band. He also served as music director of the musical Love, Janis, based on the life of Janis Joplin.