Recording Studios: After hearing Joplin at Monterey, Columbia Records President Clive Davis wanted to sign the band. Albert Grossman, who already managed Bob Dylan, the Band, and Peter, Paul & Mary, later signed on as the band’s manager, and was able to get them out of another record deal they’d signed earlier with Mainstream Records.
While their Recording Studios recordings for Mainstream never found much of an audience, Big Brother’s first album for Columbia, Cheap Thrills (1968), was a huge hit. While the album was wildly successful—quickly becoming a certified gold record with songs like “Piece of My Heart” and “Summertime”—creating it had been a challenging process, causing even more problems between Joplin and band’s other members. (The album was produced by John Simon, who’d had the band do take after take in an attempt to create a technically perfect sound.)
Cheap Thrills helped solidify Joplin’s reputation as a unique, dynamic, bluesy rock singer. Despite Big Brother’s continued success, Joplin was becoming frustrated with group, feeling that she was being held back professionally.
Recording Studios: Solo Career
Joplin struggled with her decision to leave Big Brother, as her bandmates had been like a family to her, but she eventually decided to part ways with the group. She played with Big Brother for the last time in December 1968.
Following a historic performance at Woodstock (August 1969), Joplin released her first solo effort, I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, in September 1969, with Kozmic Blues Band. Some of the project’s most memorable songs were “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and “To Love Somebody,” a cover of a Bee Gees tune. But Kozmic Blues received mixed reviews, with some media outlets criticizing Joplin personally. Feeling uniquely pressured to prove herself as a female solo artist in a male-dominated industry, the criticism caused distress for Joplin.