The lead guitarist for Janis Joplin’s band Big Brother and the Holding Company, James Gurley, has died at the age of 69. Read more on Gurley’s death below.
James Gurley reportedly died after suffering a heart attack.
Gurley was one of the most well-known of the guitarists of the 1960’s along with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Melton of Country Joe and the Fish.
“I would say all of my guitar-playing contemporaries strived to have their own sound, but I think James was a huge influence on all of us because he wasn’t afraid to break the boundaries of conventional music,” Melton said Thursday. “What one thinks of that genre of music is that place that it takes you to where the beat is just assumed and the whole thing is transported to another place, and James is the guy who started that.”
Gurley would use an electric vibrator as a slide on his guitar and created a sound that was unique.
“Some of the innovations were the result of the fact he came from kind of a progressive bluegrass school of music where weirdness was encouraged,” said Peter Albin, the group’s bass player.
Gurley is survived by his wife, Margaret, and sons Hongo and Django.
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