janis joplin
+ the grande
ballroom

 

On March 2,1968 the Tiffany Shade appeared in Detroit, Michigan at the Grande Ballroom on a bill with Big Brother & the Holding Co. and the Peachtree Mob. When asked if he or the band had met Janis Joplin Bob Leonard replies, “no, we all did our own thing and pretty much just kept to ourselves we weren’t into the rock star thing.”

 

Tom Shuster described Janis as being “unapproachable, she had tons of people all around her. I watched her perform from the side. She was really good.”

Robb Murphy emphatically states “Janis was fucking unbelievable. It was the first time we had ever heard her and she just blew everybody away, and the band too. It was intense.”

Tiffany Shade with Big Brother and the Holding Company poster

The one thing that stuck out in Mike Barnes mind about the Grande gig was “after the music was over and the crowd had left, Fender amplifiers was there. They had given Janis and her band all of their equipment. They were there to take photographs. They had massive lights set up and all the amps and just wanted a photo of the band in front of all the amps, kind of a formal photograph.

So the photographer had Janis sitting there, well she was shit faced. When I met her before she played she was perfectly sober and it occurred to me that this was how she did it. She was just as gracious and nice a person as you’d ever want to meet and then she went out on stage and started drinking heavily. So by the time they were done playing she was just invisible. So she’s sitting on this little chair in front of the band and in front of all the amplifiers and every time the photographer would count down to take the photograph she would spread her legs. She must have done that 18 times. He was so mad at her and she just wouldn’t stop. She was just a bad girl. But she was very gracious with us and nice. I liked her.”

The Tiffany Shade returned to the historic Grande Ballroom again on April 5, 1968. They appeared on a bill with The Troggs and the MC5. When asked about that gig Robb Murphy remembers partying with the Motor City Five. “They invited us back to their place as they had plenty of room to stay. It was a huge party.”

Tiffany Shade with The Troggs and MC5 poster

Mike Barnes says, “the MC5 were the loudest thing I ever heard in my life. The rumors about how loud they were were not exaggerated. It was stunning. You could just hardly be in the same room with it. It was a wall of Marshalls, it wasn’t very good but it was incredibly loud.”

While he may not have cared for the Motor City Five, Mike Barnes really liked the Grande Ballroom. He says, “the Grande really was a spooky bizarre old place. It was a big ass ballroom and kind of felt like a movie theatre. It was neat. I just really enjoyed it.”

Robb Murphy says, “we did play the album live at the Grande Ballroom we pulled it off and the crowd was going for it. The crowd was going for us but it wasn’t the same as the album. It was scaring us. The fact that we couldn’t reproduce the album live was something we should have thought about when we were doing the vocal things in the studio. At that time we were really into the Beach Boys and were trying to add elements of counter point within what we were doing vocally”.

Bob Leonard has stated repeatedly “the album was crap”. Furthermore he asserts, “We hated it and thought it was rushed. We really thought we could do so much better so we decided to talk to our managers about taking some time off to rehearse, write and take our time in putting out our next LP. We wanted it to be our masterpiece.

As a result of these talks we returned to Vermont, hung out, played and wrote. After a while though we ran out of money and we all got sick with the flu. We played some shows around Warren and Waitsfield, Vermont but after seeing some incredible bands pass through the area we decided that we had a lot to learn and that we should be a top 40 band. We returned back to Cleveland once again to rehearse.”