Sam Andrew

Sam Andrew

Rock Legend Janis Joplin used to live near the border of Corte Madera and Larkspur until she died in 1970.  Before that, she and her band, Big Brother and The Holding Company (BBHC), lived together in a large home in West Marin, writing songs, rehearsing, and partying with some of the most well-known figures of the Psychedelic era.

Sam Andrew

Sam Andrew & Janis Joplin

SAM ANDREW, the guitarist for BBHC and Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, still lives out in West Marin.  He often spends his mornings at the Aroma Cafe in San Rafael, enjoying a cup of coffee and painting.

“The Aroma Café is like a 19th century salon thing,” says Andrew, “where the painter is painting and his friends all come, sit around, and make a lot of noise.  It’s a great pleasure,” he says of his morning painting sessions. “I’ve gotten to know every homeless person in San Rafael, stock brokers and politicians too, and the cross section is really great.  They come talk to me and they’re all the same.  The homeless person is as interesting as the guy who lives in Tiburon who is a championship swimmer as well as a stockbroker.  Both of those people are really interesting.  They both have a story.”

You may get a story or two yourself if you visit Andrew while he’s painting at the Aroma Cafe.  He invites everyone to come by and say hello.  Yes, you read that correctly.  So, if you’re already getting the impression that Andrew is a nice and friendly guy, wait until you meet him in person.  His kind and humble demeanor is striking.  Not a trace of cynicism, celebrity, or ego.

In 1960, when Andrew was 18, he and his military father moved to Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato from Okinawa.  Andrew, already a trained musician, began taking classes at the University of San Francisco and exploring the San Francisco folk scene.

ON HAMILTON AIR FORCE BASE IN THE EARLY 60s:

JASON:  Did you actually live on the base?

SAM:  I lived in Hamilton immediately and then moved across the freeway to Ignacio Valley Road.  But that was just through the summer.  I then went to the University of San Francisco and lived in the dorms for a while.  I then moved into an apartment at 251 Ashbury and became one of the first Haight Ashbury people.  But I always came back (to Marin) for summer and Christmas.   I learned to play a lot of instruments at Hamilton AFB in the Service Clubs.  You could go in there and check out any instrument you wanted.  It was really heaven for a musician.

JASON: And you were in a band at the time?

SAM: Yes, during that time I played in a band with John Cippolina (later to play with The Quicksilver Messenger Service).  This was really early, maybe 1960, and I played saxophone.  I don’t remember the name of the band — it was short-lived.  That was my first run-in with John and we both had short hair (at the time).  I didn’t see him again until 1965.

JASON: How much music was going on in Marin back in 1960?

SAM:  Quite a bit.  Audie DeLone was playing.  The Sons of Champlin were playing but they weren’t called “The Sons” yet.  A lot of music was going on but I didn’t really see it because I’d go back to the City and play at a coffee gallery in North Beach or something like that.

JASON:   What San Francisco music were you listening to during that time?

SAM: I was very aware of the Kingston Trio but I was listening more to The Weavers, The Limelighters, The Beau Brummels and a band called We Five.

JASON: Tell me about living in West Marin during the mid-Sixties with Janis Joplin and the band.

sam-and-janis-color

Sam & Janis

SAM: When we (Janis Joplin and entire Big Brother band) moved out to Lagunitas in 1966 it definitely felt like driving out into the country.  We were really happy because we were driving down Sir Francis Drake and saw beautiful girls on horses with long straight hair and we thought, “What is this?  Paradise?”  I don’t think you could do that today (on Sir Francis Drake) on a horse.  It would probably be too frightening.  The roads were very little-traveled (back then) and to go over White Hill into the valley was a big deal… It really felt like a pioneering trek… Marin always had this dreamlike atmosphere.  When they painted the Waldo Tunnel with that rainbow it was perfect because that’s how we all felt, like we were going to this ‘golden land’.

JASON:  Why did your band decide to move to Marin rather than live and work in the City?

SAM:   It was getting kind of scary in the City and the Haight. The “Summer of Love” was over before it began.  People were coming to SF from all over the nation after the Chronicle and Time magazine starting writing all this stuff about it…. So San Francisco was changing.  We just wanted to go someplace where it was nice and calm so we decided on Marin.  I have to admit that The Dead and The Quicksilver moved out here first and we were just copy-catting…

JASON:  Where exactly did the band live in Lagunitas?

SAM: We lived in a house that is now lived in by the Levi Strauss people.  That was around 1966.  I think we leased it.  It seemed huge, like an old hunting lodge that Teddy Roosevelt might have lived in. It really was a beautiful place.

Big Brother in West Marin

Big Brother in West Marin

JASON:  What were you paying in rent?

SAM:  Very little.  It could not have been (more than) $100 a piece.

JASON: So, what was a typical day like out in Lagunitas with Janis and the band?

SAM: When we first moved into the house I showed up late and everybody already had their rooms staked out.  I really lost out and said, “Where am I going to be?”  They said, “There’s this little cabin out in the back.  You can go live out there.”  The cabin turned out to be the best place to live (on the property).  Eventually everybody (in the band) wanted the cabin because they were all in each other’s hair.  Some of them were married and had babies.  And there was Janis — would didn’t even have a boyfriend — staying up all night long, raising hell…

JASON:  Drugs?

SAM:  Yeah, all that stuff.   Mostly the women.  The women really got together on the drug part.  I would stay up all night in the cabin and write songs and then we would start rehearsal in the house at about 10 in the morning.  I’d come in with a song and say, “What do you think about this?” and we would try it and rehearse for maybe 8 hours daily.   Then we’d pile in the cars and go do a gig at the Avalon or Fillmore.

JASON:  Did living in that cabin in Lagunitas inspire any of your music?

SAM:  There’s a ballad I wrote called “Call on Me” which I wrote in that cabin.  It was a tender ballad that was definitely influenced by Marin. I’d (purposely) walk way out into the woods alone a lot and get lost…

JASON: Any memories of hanging out with other famous bands in West Marin?

SAM: There was one Christmas party I remember where all the other bands came.  Country Joe and the Fish’s Barry Melton was there and I asked him a lot of questions about how I should approach the solo to a song called “Piece of My Heart”.  We spent hours talking about that song.  BBHC played in Scotland about a year ago and Barry was there.   The local terrain in Scotland really reminded me of Marin and I said to him, “Doesn’t this remind you of Lagunitas?”  He said, “Yeah” and we reminisced about that Christmas party and talking about that song.

ON THE LION’S SHARE IN SAN ANSELMO:

Lion's Share

Lion’s Share

JASON:   Can you describe what the The Lion’s Share club in San Anselmo was like?

SAM: It was this crowded hot room with kind of a low ceiling.  For some reason I was walking down the street about two years ago and I went by there and said, “Hey, this is the Lion’s Share!”   I walked in and it (had become) this metal refinishing shop or something.  I asked them, ‘Do you have any idea what used to go on in here?’  Some of them did and some didn’t.  I said, ‘Mose Allison was in this room.  We had a party for Janis Joplin after she died in this very room and everyone was snorting coke in the bathrooms.  It was insane.’

James Gurley was one of our guitar players.  His son was only 3 years old when he played drums with us at the Lion’s Share.  It was his first gig and he could barely sit on the seat.  He played an incredible shuffle,  kept the beat and it was amazing.   A lot of really crazy things happened there.

JASON:  Like what else?

SAM: Me chasing a woman into the bathroom, you know.  Or several women.  It seemed like the bathroom always had 15 people in it, you know what I mean?  And sometimes I’d go knock on the door and say, “Hey, I gotta get in there” and two or three voices would say “Not yet”.

JASON: What was happening in there?

SAM: They were doing coke and, you know, smoking pot all the time.  One time I knocked and John Cippolina came out of the bathroom with about 10 women.

JASON:  Do you think Marin was more permissive than other places in the country?

SAM:  Yes,  definitely Marin was more permissive by far.  Maybe more permissive than San Francisco.  So it was always a shock to go to the South (of the U.S.) where it still (felt like) the Fifties.  I’m trying to think if we ever had any trouble with the (Marin) police.  I don’t think so.  I don’t remember any run-ins with them that early.  Marin was just very relaxed.

DO YOU THINK THERE WAS A ‘MARIN SOUND’?

janis-and-big-brother 2SAM:  That’s a good question… The two most talented bands to come out of Marin by far were The Sons of Champlin and Moby Grape.  The Grape came from somewhere else but they started to make it at places like THE ARK in Sausalito.

The next band after The Sons of Champlin and Moby Grape was way down below and I don’t even know who that would be.  Definitely not The Grateful Dead.

JASON:  You’re ranking bands in terms of musicianship?

SAM: Yeah, musicianship.  And I can say that because I’m lumping us in that same category too.  I think that The Dead tapped into sort of a bluegrass/country consciousness and they played a lot of free concerts.  They did a lot of the right things and more power to them.  That was a beautiful thing they tapped into but they weren’t musicians like The Grape or especially Sons of Champlin.

JASON:  So, in a fair world, the most successful Marin band of all time should be…?

SAM: The Sons of Champlin.  They had a ‘Marin vibe’.  First of all, they were from Marin which was rare in itself.  Most of the other bands would come from other places.  As far as I know The Sons were all from Marin… When they came around you always had this feeling these were real Marin natives, you know what I mean?   Terry Haggerty and David Schallock were great people to hang out with, really relaxed and easy.

JANIS IN MARIN:

janis-joplin-and-her-custom-painted-1965-porsche-356c-cabrioletJASON: If Janis were here today what would she say about Marin?

SAM:  Well, she loved Marin.  We lived in Lagunitas and she loved that experience.  We really loved having all the artists, more than the musicians, come over to our house and talk to us.  (Later) She bought a house in Corte Madera.  It was on Baltimore Canyon Road all the way at the end.  That’s when she had the Full Tilt Boogie Band and met Kris Kristofferson, who was not famous at all.  He was just this really nice guy who was a Rhodes scholar and really bright and he loved to sing country songs.  So we’d sit around and sing country music in her house in Corte Madera and then we’d go out and ride in her car.  She had a painted Porsche that just screamed Marin.  The three of us would ride in that car together — which was hard in that Porsche — through downtown San Rafael.  Janis, Kris, and me, driving down the street, waiving.  It was like the procession of the Queen.  Everybody knew who Janis was.  Nobody really knew who I was or Kris but we had a really fun time.

JASON:  Do you remember any local places you and Janis liked to hang out?

SAM:  Well, she loved THE SILVER PESO.  Janis loved to be with people and drink and have a good time.  She either put a piano in there or she bought the piano that was in there and put it in her house…If you and I walked into the Silver Peso this afternoon I’d probably see someone from those days.  I mean, that’s a loyal clientele.  And of course we all went to the THE TRIDENT.

THE BERMUDA PALMS HOTEL:

Bermuda Palms

Bermuda Palms

SAM:  I played at THE BERMUDA PALMS HOTEL in San Rafael in 1969 with Janis and it was a Hell’s Angels thing.  They (the Angels) were doing security or it was their party and they were real stoned.  There was a murderous vibration in the air….(Janis’ new band Full Tilt Boogie Band) was the headliner and Big Brother (the band that Janis had recently left) was also on the bill.  Everyone was really edgy…and probably drinking too much or something… Janis got into a fight with a Hell’s Angel.

JASON: What????

SAM:  He tried to grab her bottle and she hit him over the head and broke it.  Weird times.

JASON:  Did you see it happen?

SAM:  Yeah.

Hell's Angels

Hell’s Angels

JASON: What did you think when you saw her hit a Hell’s Angel on the head with a bottle?

SAM:  “Gee, I wonder where the exit is?  How do you get out of here really fast?”

JASON: What happened after she hit him?

SAM:  Well, a lot of (The Hell’s Angels) were her friends.  Indeed she had lived with one of them at one time so I guess (other members of the gang) calmed both parties down.  (The Hell’s Angel) wasn’t afraid to attack her physically and she wasn’t afraid to attack him physically.  They were a match.

JASON: Did he actually hit her?

SAM:  Yeah, he did hit her as a matter of fact.

JASON:  In the face?

SAM:  I can’t remember.

JASON: Was Janis a violent person?

SAM:  No.  She slapped me really hard one time but, no, in general she wasn’t a violent person.

JASON:  Why did she slap you?

SAM:  I can’t remember but I can tell you for sure I deserved it.  I was just popping off.  I just gotta say so that things aren’t misinterpreted — I really liked Janis a lot.  She was fundamentally a good person.  She was highly intelligent and fair…so that’s why I know that whatever she slapped me for I know I deserved it.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MARIN?

SAM:  You start out with Sausalito, this picturesque colorful little fishing village.   It (originally) attracts a lot of Bohemians.  And then the hippie thing came and -- even before then -- people would live out at THE GATES in these boats and be free.  Sterling Hayden had a yacht out there.  THE VAN DAMME was a steamboat Big Brother played a lot of gigs on and so did Moby Grape.

Then, because (Sausalito) is picturesque and charming, a lot of (new) people move in.  They’re stockbrokers and stuff.  And all of a sudden they don’t want these artists (around).  (They say) the artists are kind of ‘noisy’ and ‘a little too individual’ and they’re going to ‘take down the property value’.  So (the newcomers) start suppressing them…and make Sausalito into this ‘nice community’ — which is totally against the whole reason (Sausalito) became what it was.

Charles Van Damme Ferry

Charles Van Damme

And it goes on from there…  That heliport in Sausalito is gone …  And Mill Valley is seriously gentrified — more than maybe any other town in Marin — and Tiburon (used to be) a fishing village…

JASON: Even though Janis was originally from Texas, would you say she was more of a Texan or more of a Marinite at heart?

SAM:  I’d say she was more of a Marinite at heart.  She came out in the early Sixties but when she died she lived in Marin in Corte Madera, and she’d left Texas behind a long time ago for that age.  She was 26 or 27.  She left when she was 18 so that was almost a third of her life.  She loved the life here.  I know she did, I’m not just saying that.  She would never have gone back to Texas.

Big Brother and The Holding Company is still performing and recording music.  Visit Sam Andrew and the BBHC’s website by clicking HERE.

 

Rock Legend Janis Joplin used to live near the border of Corte Madera and Larkspur until she died in 1970.  Before that, she and her band, Big Brother and The Holding Company (BBHC), lived together in a large home in West Marin, writing songs, rehearsing, and partying with some of the most well-known figures of the Psychedelic era.

Sam Andrew

Sam Andrew & Janis Joplin

SAM ANDREW, the guitarist for BBHC and Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, still lives out in West Marin.  He often spends his mornings at the Aroma Cafe in San Rafael, enjoying a cup of coffee and painting.

“The Aroma Café is like a 19th century salon thing,” says Andrew, “where the painter is painting and his friends all come, sit around, and make a lot of noise.  It’s a great pleasure,” he says of his morning painting sessions. “I’ve gotten to know every homeless person in San Rafael, stock brokers and politicians too, and the cross section is really great.  They come talk to me and they’re all the same.  The homeless person is as interesting as the guy who lives in Tiburon who is a championship swimmer as well as a stockbroker.  Both of those people are really interesting.  They both have a story.”

You may get a story or two yourself if you visit Andrew while he’s painting at the Aroma Cafe.  He invites everyone to come by and say hello.  Yes, you read that correctly.  So, if you’re already getting the impression that Andrew is a nice and friendly guy, wait until you meet him in person.  His kind and humble demeanor is striking.  Not a trace of cynicism, celebrity, or ego.

In 1960, when Andrew was 18, he and his military father moved to Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato from Okinawa.  Andrew, already a trained musician, began taking classes at the University of San Francisco and exploring the San Francisco folk scene.

ON HAMILTON AIR FORCE BASE IN THE EARLY 60s:

JASON:  Did you actually live on the base?

SAM:  I lived in Hamilton immediately and then moved across the freeway to Ignacio Valley Road.  But that was just through the summer.  I then went to the University of San Francisco and lived in the dorms for a while.  I then moved into an apartment at 251 Ashbury and became one of the first Haight Ashbury people.  But I always came back (to Marin) for summer and Christmas.   I learned to play a lot of instruments at Hamilton AFB in the Service Clubs.  You could go in there and check out any instrument you wanted.  It was really heaven for a musician.

JASON: And you were in a band at the time?

SAM: Yes, during that time I played in a band with John Cippolina (later to play with The Quicksilver Messenger Service).  This was really early, maybe 1960, and I played saxophone.  I don’t remember the name of the band — it was short-lived.  That was my first run-in with John and we both had short hair (at the time).  I didn’t see him again until 1965.

JASON: How much music was going on in Marin back in 1960?

SAM:  Quite a bit.  Audie DeLone was playing.  The Sons of Champlin were playing but they weren’t called “The Sons” yet.  A lot of music was going on but I didn’t really see it because I’d go back to the City and play at a coffee gallery in North Beach or something like that.

JASON:   What San Francisco music were you listening to during that time?

SAM: I was very aware of the Kingston Trio but I was listening more to The Weavers, The Limelighters, The Beau Brummels and a band called We Five.

JASON: Tell me about living in West Marin during the mid-Sixties with Janis Joplin and the band.

sam-and-janis-color

Sam & Janis

SAM: When we (Janis Joplin and entire Big Brother band) moved out to Lagunitas in 1966 it definitely felt like driving out into the country.  We were really happy because we were driving down Sir Francis Drake and saw beautiful girls on horses with long straight hair and we thought, “What is this?  Paradise?”  I don’t think you could do that today (on Sir Francis Drake) on a horse.  It would probably be too frightening.  The roads were very little-traveled (back then) and to go over White Hill into the valley was a big deal… It really felt like a pioneering trek… Marin always had this dreamlike atmosphere.  When they painted the Waldo Tunnel with that rainbow it was perfect because that’s how we all felt, like we were going to this ‘golden land’.

JASON:  Why did your band decide to move to Marin rather than live and work in the City?

SAM:   It was getting kind of scary in the City and the Haight. The “Summer of Love” was over before it began.  People were coming to SF from all over the nation after the Chronicle and Time magazine starting writing all this stuff about it…. So San Francisco was changing.  We just wanted to go someplace where it was nice and calm so we decided on Marin.  I have to admit that The Dead and The Quicksilver moved out here first and we were just copy-catting…

JASON:  Where exactly did the band live in Lagunitas?

SAM: We lived in a house that is now lived in by the Levi Strauss people.  That was around 1966.  I think we leased it.  It seemed huge, like an old hunting lodge that Teddy Roosevelt might have lived in. It really was a beautiful place.

Big Brother in West Marin

Big Brother in West Marin

JASON:  What were you paying in rent?

SAM:  Very little.  It could not have been (more than) $100 a piece.

JASON: So, what was a typical day like out in Lagunitas with Janis and the band?

SAM: When we first moved into the house I showed up late and everybody already had their rooms staked out.  I really lost out and said, “Where am I going to be?”  They said, “There’s this little cabin out in the back.  You can go live out there.”  The cabin turned out to be the best place to live (on the property).  Eventually everybody (in the band) wanted the cabin because they were all in each other’s hair.  Some of them were married and had babies.  And there was Janis — would didn’t even have a boyfriend — staying up all night long, raising hell…

JASON:  Drugs?

SAM:  Yeah, all that stuff.   Mostly the women.  The women really got together on the drug part.  I would stay up all night in the cabin and write songs and then we would start rehearsal in the house at about 10 in the morning.  I’d come in with a song and say, “What do you think about this?” and we would try it and rehearse for maybe 8 hours daily.   Then we’d pile in the cars and go do a gig at the Avalon or Fillmore.

JASON:  Did living in that cabin in Lagunitas inspire any of your music?

SAM:  There’s a ballad I wrote called “Call on Me” which I wrote in that cabin.  It was a tender ballad that was definitely influenced by Marin. I’d (purposely) walk way out into the woods alone a lot and get lost…

JASON: Any memories of hanging out with other famous bands in West Marin?

SAM: There was one Christmas party I remember where all the other bands came.  Country Joe and the Fish’s Barry Melton was there and I asked him a lot of questions about how I should approach the solo to a song called “Piece of My Heart”.  We spent hours talking about that song.  BBHC played in Scotland about a year ago and Barry was there.   The local terrain in Scotland really reminded me of Marin and I said to him, “Doesn’t this remind you of Lagunitas?”  He said, “Yeah” and we reminisced about that Christmas party and talking about that song.

ON THE LION’S SHARE IN SAN ANSELMO:

Lion's Share

Lion’s Share

JASON:   Can you describe what the The Lion’s Share club in San Anselmo was like?

SAM: It was this crowded hot room with kind of a low ceiling.  For some reason I was walking down the street about two years ago and I went by there and said, “Hey, this is the Lion’s Share!”   I walked in and it (had become) this metal refinishing shop or something.  I asked them, ‘Do you have any idea what used to go on in here?’  Some of them did and some didn’t.  I said, ‘Mose Allison was in this room.  We had a party for Janis Joplin after she died in this very room and everyone was snorting coke in the bathrooms.  It was insane.’

James Gurley was one of our guitar players.  His son was only 3 years old when he played drums with us at the Lion’s Share.  It was his first gig and he could barely sit on the seat.  He played an incredible shuffle,  kept the beat and it was amazing.   A lot of really crazy things happened there.

JASON:  Like what else?

SAM: Me chasing a woman into the bathroom, you know.  Or several women.  It seemed like the bathroom always had 15 people in it, you know what I mean?  And sometimes I’d go knock on the door and say, “Hey, I gotta get in there” and two or three voices would say “Not yet”.

JASON: What was happening in there?

SAM: They were doing coke and, you know, smoking pot all the time.  One time I knocked and John Cippolina came out of the bathroom with about 10 women.

JASON:  Do you think Marin was more permissive than other places in the country?

SAM:  Yes,  definitely Marin was more permissive by far.  Maybe more permissive than San Francisco.  So it was always a shock to go to the South (of the U.S.) where it still (felt like) the Fifties.  I’m trying to think if we ever had any trouble with the (Marin) police.  I don’t think so.  I don’t remember any run-ins with them that early.  Marin was just very relaxed.

DO YOU THINK THERE WAS A ‘MARIN SOUND’?

 

janis-and-big-brother 2SAM:  That’s a good question… The two most talented bands to come out of Marin by far were The Sons of Champlin and Moby Grape.  The Grape came from somewhere else but they started to make it at places like THE ARK in Sausalito.

The next band after The Sons of Champlin and Moby Grape was way down below and I don’t even know who that would be.  Definitely not The Grateful Dead.

JASON:  You’re ranking bands in terms of musicianship?

SAM: Yeah, musicianship.  And I can say that because I’m lumping us in that same category too.  I think that The Dead tapped into sort of a bluegrass/country consciousness and they played a lot of free concerts.  They did a lot of the right things and more power to them.  That was a beautiful thing they tapped into but they weren’t musicians like The Grape or especially Sons of Champlin.

JASON:  So, in a fair world, the most successful Marin band of all time should be…?

SAM: The Sons of Champlin.  They had a ‘Marin vibe’.  First of all, they were from Marin which was rare in itself.  Most of the other bands would come from other places.  As far as I know The Sons were all from Marin… When they came around you always had this feeling these were real Marin natives, you know what I mean?   Terry Haggerty and David Schallock were great people to hang out with, really relaxed and easy.

 

JANIS IN MARIN:

janis-joplin-and-her-custom-painted-1965-porsche-356c-cabrioletJASON: If Janis were here today what would she say about Marin?

SAM:  Well, she loved Marin.  We lived in Lagunitas and she loved that experience.  We really loved having all the artists, more than the musicians, come over to our house and talk to us.  (Later) She bought a house in Corte Madera.  It was on Baltimore Canyon Road all the way at the end.  That’s when she had the Full Tilt Boogie Band and met Kris Kristofferson, who was not famous at all.  He was just this really nice guy who was a Rhodes scholar and really bright and he loved to sing country songs.  So we’d sit around and sing country music in her house in Corte Madera and then we’d go out and ride in her car.  She had a painted Porsche that just screamed Marin.  The three of us would ride in that car together — which was hard in that Porsche — through downtown San Rafael.  Janis, Kris, and me, driving down the street, waiving.  It was like the procession of the Queen.  Everybody knew who Janis was.  Nobody really knew who I was or Kris but we had a really fun time.

JASON:  Do you remember any local places you and Janis liked to hang out?

SAM:  Well, she loved THE SILVER PESO.  Janis loved to be with people and drink and have a good time.  She either put a piano in there or she bought the piano that was in there and put it in her house…If you and I walked into the Silver Peso this afternoon I’d probably see someone from those days.  I mean, that’s a loyal clientele.  And of course we all went to the THE TRIDENT.

THE BERMUDA PALMS HOTEL:

Bermuda Palms

Bermuda Palms

 

SAM:  I played at THE BERMUDA PALMS HOTEL in San Rafael in 1969 with Janis and it was a Hell’s Angels thing.  They (the Angels) were doing security or it was their party and they were real stoned.  There was a murderous vibration in the air….(Janis’ new band Full Tilt Boogie Band) was the headliner and Big Brother (the band that Janis had recently left) was also on the bill.  Everyone was really edgy…and probably drinking too much or something… Janis got into a fight with a Hell’s Angel.

JASON: What????

SAM:  He tried to grab her bottle and she hit him over the head and broke it.  Weird times.

JASON:  Did you see it happen?

SAM:  Yeah.

Hell’s Angels
Hell's Angels

Hell’s Angels

JASON: What did you think when you saw her hit a Hell’s Angel on the head with a bottle?

SAM:  “Gee, I wonder where the exit is?  How do you get out of here really fast?”

JASON: What happened after she hit him?

SAM:  Well, a lot of (The Hell’s Angels) were her friends.  Indeed she had lived with one of them at one time so I guess (other members of the gang) calmed both parties down.  (The Hell’s Angel) wasn’t afraid to attack her physically and she wasn’t afraid to attack him physically.  They were a match.

JASON: Did he actually hit her?

SAM:  Yeah, he did hit her as a matter of fact.

JASON:  In the face?

SAM:  I can’t remember.

JASON: Was Janis a violent person?

SAM:  No.  She slapped me really hard one time but, no, in general she wasn’t a violent person.

JASON:  Why did she slap you?

SAM:  I can’t remember but I can tell you for sure I deserved it.  I was just popping off.  I just gotta say so that things aren’t misinterpreted — I really liked Janis a lot.  She was fundamentally a good person.  She was highly intelligent and fair…so that’s why I know that whatever she slapped me for I know I deserved it.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MARIN?

 

SAM:  You start out with Sausalito, this picturesque colorful little fishing village.   It (originally) attracts a lot of Bohemians.  And then the hippie thing came and — even before then — people would live out at THE GATES in these boats and be free.  Sterling Hayden had a yacht out there.  THE VAN DAMME was a steamboat Big Brother played a lot of gigs on and so did Moby Grape.

Charles Van Damme Ferry
Charles Van Damme Ferry

Then, because (Sausalito) is picturesque and charming, a lot of (new) people move in.  They’re stockbrokers and stuff.  And all of a sudden they don’t want these artists (around).  (They say) the artists are kind of ‘noisy’ and ‘a little too individual’ and they’re going to ‘take down the property value’.  So (the newcomers) start suppressing them…and make Sausalito into this ‘nice community’ — which is totally against the whole reason (Sausalito) became what it was.

And it goes on from there…  That heliport in Sausalito is gone …  And Mill Valley is seriously gentrified — more than maybe any other town in Marin — and Tiburon (used to be) a fishing village…

JASON: Even though Janis was originally from Texas, would you say she was more of a Texan or more of a Marinite at heart?

SAM:  I’d say she was more of a Marinite at heart.  She came out in the early Sixties but when she died she lived in Marin in Corte Madera, and she’d left Texas behind a long time ago for that age.  She was 26 or 27.  She left when she was 18 so that was almost a third of her life.  She loved the life here.  I know she did, I’m not just saying that.  She would never have gone back to Texas.

Big Brother and The Holding Company is still performing and recording music.  Visit Sam Andrew and the BBHC’s website by clicking HERE.

 

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