Big Brother and the Holding Company - a band best known for launching the career of psychedelic singer Janis Joplin - released their second and most popular album 'Cheap Thrills' 50 years ago in 1968 - one of the most influential years in pop music history.
It was certainly a product of its time, enlisting underground comix hero Robert Crumb to do the back cover, which ultimately became the front cover (but that’s a different story).
The album art wasn't Big Brother's only attempt to tap into the popular hippie culture to promote the record. The title was pulled from an old anti-marijuana flick that was already becoming a major cult hit in the stoner community.
'Cheap Thrills' was a perfect fit for its rollicking, drug-infused guitar riffs and soulful ballads. But it's actually an abbreviated version of the original title: ‘Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills,' which was taken from the infamous propaganda film ‘Reefer Madness.’
The record executives, of course, balked at the full title, not enjoying the band’s sly reversal of the film’s condemnation of sex and drugs, and shortened it to the now familiar title we know today. But even in its shortened film, the title is still a clever way for Joplin and her bandmates to thumb their noses at marijuana prohibition.