Janis Joplin / Big Brother – 5 Signed Contract Riders For Monterey Pop Festival / Their Breakout Performance
The best time of all was Monterey. It was one of the highest points of my life…Ain’t nothing like that ever gonna happen again -Janis Joplin
Five contract riders (additions to existing contracts) for Big Brother and the Holding Company’s appearances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, universally acknowledged as Janis Joplin’s breakthrough performances. The identical riders are each signed by one band member: Janis Joplin, Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, David Getz, and James Gurley. Each has been countersigned by Festival co-producer Lou Adler.
With a vintage telegram receipt from Monterey Pop co-producer John Phillips confirming Big Brother’s participation, and a letter from Festival co-producer Peter Pilafian regarding travel arrangements for the band.
From On the Road With Janis Joplin by Joplin’s road manager John Byrne Cooke:
The [Monterey Pop Festival] performance many of us will remember forever comes from Big Brother and the Holding Company…In San Francisco [Janis is] already something of a local legend. She’s been singing with Big Brother for just a year and has won a reputation as a singer like no other. Beyond the Bay she is all but unknown.
The short set concludes with Janis’s show stopper from the San Francisco ballrooms, Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton’s ‘Ball and Chain’…Up to now, Big Brother is just a variation on the San Francisco Sound. From this moment, they’re Something Else…Her voice rises, pleads, screams. By the time she hits the first chorus, the audience is mesmerized. Can a white girl sing the blues? Janis’s answer is yes, in spades.… In the second row of the audience, in the fenced off section reserved for performers and VIPs, Mama Cass Elliot gapes, open-mouthed. When the audience’s roar of approval erupts at the end of the song, Cass turns to the guy beside her and exclaims ‘Wow. Wow! That’s really heavy!’
Backstage Big Brother is jubilant – but there is trouble brewing, right here in music city. Big Brother, along with some of the other San Francisco bands, refused permission to be filmed, and [Monterey Pop movie director D.A.] Pennebaker is beside himself. Big Brother has to be in the movie! Janis’s performance will make the movie!
Julius Karpen, Big Brother manager, is adamantly against them appearing in the movie. Karpen is a balding, myopic, beatnik businessman who drives a hearse. He’s called Green Julius within the San Francisco rock scene because he smokes prodigious amounts of weed…He is deeply suspicious of the music business. The movie is a rip-off, he says. Everyone’s playing for free, so why should [organizers] John Phillips and Lou Adler and ABC-TV and whoever else profit from the performances all the band gets nothing. Oh, right, proceeds to causes that benefit popular music, whatever that means.
Janis is sympathetic to the anti-commercial ethic that pervades the San Francisco music scene… [but thinks] Big brother should be in the movie too. She leads the fight against Julius, and a couple of the boys back her. At an impasse among themselves and at odds with their manager, the band casts about for an oracle to show them the auspicious pathway. They turn to Albert Grossman.
The breadth of Grossman‘s achievements is less important to Janis and Big Brother than the singular fact that he is Bob Dylan‘s manager and Dylan has thrived under his care.… Backstage at Monterey, Grossman is the only person who appears unperturbed amid the commotion swirling around Janis and Big Brother.… Pennebaker [director of the Dylan film Don’t Look Back] has spoken with Albert about Janis’s performance, which blew him away. ‘Whatever you have to do,’ Penny said to him, ‘I don’t care if you have to go in and break a leg. God, we have to film her.! We just have to do it. This is the basis of the whole film.’
‘Don’t worry,’ Albert said, ‘I’ll fix it for you.’ And he does. When Big Brother asks Albert if they should accept the offer to perform again, if they agree to be filmed, he says, ‘Hey, I’d do it.’ He doesn’t say this just because Penny asked for his help. Albert has no stake in the movie, no investment yet, either financial or emotional, in Big Brother‘s career. He tells them to go forward because he knows it’s the right thing for them to do. If you want recognition, he says, this is the way to get it.
Albert’s approval is all the holdouts in Big Brother need. They consent to be filmed. Janis is elated, Julius Karpen storms off in a huff. Adler and Phillips juggle the schedule and make room for Big Brother on the Sunday evening program.
Sunday is Big Brother’s chance to prove they can repeat their Saturday sensation. For this performance, Janis decks herself out in a gold lame pantsuit and she sings as if her future depends on it, which it does. This time around, many in the audience know what to expect, but ‘Ball and Chain’ knocks them out all over again and once more they roar their admiration. As Janis leaves the stage, she raises her arms and skips with joy. She knows she nailed it for the cameras.
In the immediate aftermath of the festival, it is Janis who gets the most notice, the biggest boost. The fact the Big Brother was the only act to perform twice gains them an extra measure of attention from the fans and the press. In many of the articles about the Pop Festival that bloom in newspaper and magazines across the land, there’s Janis, hair flying, singing her heart out with such conviction that even in a still photograph you can feel her power.
The five contract riders are from the archive of Big Brother manager Julius Karpen. After again refusing to let the band be filmed at September’s Monterey Jazz Festival, he was fired and replaced by the far more experienced Albert Grossman. Columbia Records president Clive Davis was one of those greatly impressed by Big Brother’s Monterey Pop performances, and soon afterward signed the to the label.
These riders set forth that any “renegotiation of this contract by any performing group with the Monterey Festival shall become equal and equivalent for Big Brother and the Holding Company as the contractual agreement between each such group and the Monterey Festival with the exception of Ravi Shankar.” In other words, if any band renegotiated their Monterey contract, resulting in their being paid for their performance, Big Brother would be treated equally. Ravi Shankar was the only artist who had signed a contract before the festival became a benefit concert, and thus was the only artist paid to appear.
Janis Joplin’s rider is on a full page, David Getz and Peter Albin’s riders are together on a half page, and those for James Gurley and Sam Andrew’s are on quarter pages (we have combined them in a single scan here to illustrate how they might be framed together.)
Also included is a telegram receipt from Monterey Pop co-producer (and Mamas and the Papas co-founder) John Phillips confirming Big Brother’s Festival participation, a letter from Festival co-producer Peter Pilafian about travel arrangements for the band, a copy of the Big Brother live at Monterey album Combination of the Two, and an 11″ x 14″ photograph of Big Brother live at Monterey.
An extraordinary set of Big Brother signed documents from the most important shows of their–and Janis Joplin’s–career.
With Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity, and music autograph expert Roger Epperson’s letter of authenticity for the Janis Joplin rider.
This item has been sold.
Have one to sell us?
Let us know if you have any questions about this particular item.