Full Tilt Boogie Band was a rock band originally headed by guitarist John Till, and then by Janis Joplin until her death in 1970. The band was composed of Till, pianist Richard Bell, bassist Brad Campbell, drummer Clark Pierson, and organist Ken Pearson.
In its original late 1960s incarnation, the Full Tillt Boogie Band (the two "L's" being a play on the spelling of Till's last name), Till fronted the group as a side project from his usual gigs as a New York City studio musician. Like Till, the other members of Full Tillt were Canadians, mostly hailing from Stratford-Woodstock, Ontario.
When Joplin's management convinced her to discard Big Brother and the Holding Company as her backing band, her record label put together a new group of musicians for her. This group, dubbed the Kozmic Blues Band, consisted of Till and several other Full Tillt Boogie Band members — all studio musicians that her label was familiar with and felt were reliable — plus a horn section. Joplin was not happy touring with some of the group members, however, feeling them to be too "square," and the disappointing reviews of their 1969 album I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! led her to scrap everyone in the group except Till.
Till shortly convinced Joplin to hire his Full Tillt Boogie band in its entirety, and he agreed to drop one of the "L's" from its name, thus creating Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie backing band. Joplin took a more active role in putting together the Full Tilt Boogie Band than she did with the Kozmic Blues Band, and she believed that hiring the remainder of Till's band would provide her with the powerhouse boogie outfit she needed to back her. Joplin was quoted as saying " is my band. Finally it's my band!"
Full Tilt played their first session together on April 4, 1970, at the Fillmore West studios in San Francisco, and began touring in May 1970. From June 28 to July 4, 1970, Joplin and Full Tilt joined the all-star Festival Express tour through Canada, performing alongside the Grateful Dead, Delaney and Bonnie, Rick Danko and The Band, Eric Andersen, and Ian and Sylvia. They played concerts in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
The Full Tilt Boogie Band's (and Joplin's) last public performance took place on August 12, 1970 at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts. A positive review appeared on the front page of the Harvard Crimson newspaper despite the fact that the band performed with makeshift sound amplifiers after their regular equipment was stolen in Boston.
During September 1970, Joplin and her band began recording a new album in Los Angeles with producer Paul A. Rothchild, who had produced recordings for The Doors. Although Joplin died before all the tracks were fully completed, there was still enough usable material to compile an LP, which became Pearl.
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