Chet Helms, the so-called father of the 1967 Summer of Love and a music promoter who launched singer Janis Joplin’s career, died of complications from a stroke Saturday at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center. He was 62.
Helms was the founder and manager of Big Brother & the Holding Co., with Joplin as its lead singer. Rock ‘n’ roll impresario helped stage the free concerts and “Human Be-ins” at Golden Gate Park that became the backdrop for what became known as San Francisco’s Summer of Love in 1967 at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
Helms was instrumental in helping to develop bands that delivered what became known as the San Francisco sound.
“Without Chet, there would be no Grateful Dead, no Big Brother & the Holding Co., no Jefferson Airplane, no Country Joe & the Fish, no Quicksilver Messenger Service,” said Barry Melton, lead guitarist for Country Joe & the Fish.
Helms hooked Joplin up with Big Brother for jam sessions in a Haight-Ashbury basement. They debuted in June 1966 at the Avalon, officially launching the bluesy rock diva’s short but influential career.
Helms dropped out of the concert business for a time starting in 1970.
He is survived by wife Judy Davis.