In a quiet statement on the band’s message board, it was announced very early this morning that James Gurley, guitar and bass player for Big Brother and the Holding Company, died on December 20th.
A self-taught guitar player, he considered his sound to have developed ’emotionally.’ His earliest gigs upon moving to San Francisco were acoustic-based folk and bluegrass sets, before becoming more engaged in the developing rock scene after meeting Peter Albin and Sam Andrew in 1965. Soon after this meeting, the three guitarists would found the core of Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Originally performing as a front man prior to Janis Joplin joining the band, Gurley was known for his unusual approach to the guitar and its effects, such as attacking his amplifier, banging it against the stage to distort the sound. From like antics, he would be considered among the fathers, if not THE father, of the psychedelic sound, particularly that which would grow out of the Haight-Ashbury scene.
There is currently plans for a memorial in San Francisco sometime in January, according to fellow Big Brother guitarist, Peter Albin.