Rick Griffin’s iconic lettering style takes center stage in this vibrant piece. The Torch breaches the decorative border and offers light to the viewer. This gesture of offering – while not always tendering something wholesome or palatable – is something essential to Griffin’s work, and finds its purest expression in this Big Brother Torch and Heart poster.
Big Brother & The Holding Company released their second album in August 1968, just a month before the shows advertised on this poster. Cheap Thrills reached number one on the Billboard charts by October. It held the number one spot for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks, and the single "Piece of My Heart" also became a huge hit. By the end of the year it was one of the most successful albums of 1968. The album was initially named Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills, but Columbia asked them to shorten it to just Cheap Thrills. The original album cover photo of the band naked in a hotel room bed was also unsatisfactory, so underground comic-book artist R. Crumb was hired to create something. What was originally meant to be the back cover art became the classic cover of the album.
Also about this time, Joplin announced that she was leaving Big Brother by the end of the year. The official reason given was her desire to go solo and form a soul music band. Andrew and Ryder also planned to leave the band to join Joplin in her new project. Joplin played with Big Brother on a nationwide tour throughout October and November 1968 and their final concert was in San Francisco on December 1, 1968.
In late 1967, an unknown band called Santana auditioned for Family Dog promoter Chet Helms, who told the band that they would never make it in the San Francisco music scene playing Latin fusion and suggested Carlos keep his day job washing dishes at Tick Tock's Drive-In on 3rd Street. Bill Graham, whose love of Latin jazz was well-documented saw talent and desire in the group and promoted them at his halls (like the Fillmore) and also became their manager.
Before the Woodstock festival, Bill Graham was asked to help with logistics and planning. Graham agreed to lend his help only if a new band he was championing, the then unknown band called Santana, was added to the bill. They were one of the breakout acts at Woodstock. It wasn’t until June 1969 that their first album was released, to critical and popular acclaim.