James Gurley, a guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company who featured prominently on Janis Joplin's early hits, passed away last week following a heart attack just two days shy of his 70th birthday, Variety reports. The band's Cheap Thrills was named as one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. That LP boasts the hits "Piece of My Heart," "Summertime," "Combination of the Two" and "Ball and Chain," and Gurley is credited as a co-writer on the track "Oh, Sweet Mary." "He was very influential to the whole band early on, and even later, just by being a guy who had strange tastes and played guitar in a very bizarre manner," Big Brother bandmate Peter Albin told the AP, crediting Gurley's alternative lifestyle as one of the band's early inspirations.
Gurley released his solo album Pipe Dreams in 2000. He is survived by his wife and two children. A memorial is reportedly being planned by his fellow Big Brother bandmates in San Francisco.