David Getz was born January 24, 1940 and raised in Brooklyn N.Y. As a child he showed an exceptional talent in both music and art. His first passions, starting somewhere in early adolescence, were drawing and copying comic book art and studying Native American culture, particularly the tribes of the Great Plains. Between the ages of 11 and 13 he made an entire Plain’s Indian costume from authentic designs and materials and eventually joined an Indian dance troupe called The Heyoka Indian Dancers. It was in this group that he discovered his natural affinity for rhythm and percussion, playing the hoop-drum for the dancers.
Dave started playing drums seriously at the age of 14 and studied at the Henry Adler School in Manhattan. By the time he was 15 years old he was a member of the NewYork musicians union, local 802 and was playing professionally.
Through high school and college Dave played in dozens of jazz and dance bands; in the summers he played at the ‘borscht belt’ resorts in upstate NY. During this time Dave was asked to tour Europe with a traditional jazz sextet Rick Lundy and the Saints. This band played successful shows in Germany and Holland and when the group was not performing Dave, still a teen-ager, hitch-hiked his way through Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.

In his senior year in high school, despite the fact that he was making money and playing regularly with some of the best young musicians in New York, Dave decided to study art as his primary career and was accepted into the prestigious Cooper Union art school in Manhattan on a full scholarship. For three years he studied Architecture, Calligraphy, Commercial Art and Painting. After graduating he won a scholarship to the Skowhegan Art school in Maine where he met someone from San Francisco who sold him on the idea of coming out to California and finishing his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. At the time (1960) SFAI was the center of contemporary painting on the west coast with a faculty comprised of artists like Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bishoff, Gregory Bateson and Clifford Still.

Dave received his M.F.A degree from the San Francisco Art Institute and shortly after was the recipient of a Fullbright fellowship in painting from the U.S. government.  He spent the next year living in Krakow, Poland, (which then was a country with a communist government) painting, exhibiting his work and also playing drums with some of finest jazz musicians in Europe. Upon his return to San Francisco he was offered and accepted a position on the faculty of the Art Institute as an instructor of painting. In 1965 and 1966 Dave was very much a member of the S.F art scene, one of his paintings was accepted into the SF Museum of Modern Arts annual shows. He was painting,  showing his work and teaching; it appeared he was well on his way to a successful career in the world of modern art, but then life took an unexpected turn.

In the winter of 1965-66 in a café downstairs from his loft while taking a break from painting, Dave met Peter Albin. Dave told Peter that he played the drums and had heard of the group that Peter played with, Big Brother and the Holding Co. One month later Dave became the new drummer for the group. Three months later Janis Joplin joined the band and, as the expression goes, ‘the rest is history’.

The time from 1966 through 1968 was an incredible time in the history of music and culture in America and the world; Big Brother was close to the center of it all. The Band with Janis was one of the greatest bands in the history of rock music. In late summer and fall of 1968 “Cheap Thrills” was the number one record in the world for eight weeks. For Dave being part of the band in that time was perhaps the defining moment that has affected his life; it was also a roller-coaster ride from the bottom to the very top and then down again.

At the end of 1968 when  Janis left Big Brother and the band broke up Dave became a member of Country Joe and the Fish, touring Europe twice and recording two albums , (Here I Go Again,  Paris Sessions) with different ‘Country Joe’ bands. During this time, from 1969 to 1974 Dave lived in Marin County CA and played drums with a number of other great bands: The Nuboogaloo Express ( members of the Sons of Champlain), Pendergrass (with Kathi Mcdonald and Ronnie Montrose), Banana and the Bunch (the Youngbloods) as well as the re-born Big Brother. Big Brother’s post-Janis reunion only lasted two years but in that time between 1970 and 1972 the band produced two albums for Columbia Records “Be A Brother” and the masterpiece “How Hard It Is”: possibly the best recorded example of Dave’s creativity as a drummer and songwriter.

In 1975 Dave moved to Los Angeles where he met his wife, singer and actress, Joan Payne. For several years they wrote and performed together in L.A as part of a contemporary music ensemble called “Passengers”. The group had a loyal and enthusiastic audience and played most of the L.A. clubs and cabarets, but after four years of trying to break though the music scene with a unique and hard-to-categorize show Passengers packed it in.

For Dave Getz this was a great time to finally resume his work as a visual artist.

During the next eight years he threw himself back into his art with tremendous energy and passion. Working from his studio in Santa Monica he produced over thirty limited edition prints, hundreds of paintings, cast paper pieces, collages, and mixed-media pieces. Since 1980 his work has been shown in galleries all over the U.S.A. and Europe and has been acquired by numerous corporate and private collections. Dave also served as exhibition chairman of both the Los Angeles Printmaking Society and the California Society of Printmakers. Many of his print editions can be viewed at www.Davegetz.com

In 1987, a few months after Dave, his wife and baby daughter had moved back to Marin County Big Brother had its second re-birth with Dave giving new rhythmic life to the bands ‘60’s repertoire as well as providing the groove for the bands new material.

Today Dave Getz still lives in Marin Co CA. He is a father and grandfather and continues, as he has throughout his career to juggle art, music, teaching and his other passion, golf. He teaches and has taught both art and drumming at numerous schools including the College of Marin, Drake H.S., Novato H.S., San Marin H.S. and has been on the faculty of Jazz CampWest since 2004.

Dave also continues to pursue his work in the visual arts. In 2005 he was asked, along with eleven other Bay Area artists, including Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, to paint an actual violin to be auctioned for the Marin Symphony. Dave used this opportunity to create an auto-biographical visual metaphor that was a break-through in his evolution as an artist.

These days when not touring with BBHC Dave can be heard playing in several other popular,  Bay Area bands including the Joan Getz Jazz Quartet, the Big Money in Gumbo Band,  The Macy Blackman band, Jose Neto’s Local Heroes and the Studio 13 Jass Band.

For the last two years he has also been producing a Dave Getz CD of original music that features performances by James Gurley, Peter Albin, David Nelson, Tom Finch and other great Bay Area musicians. Watch this site for news and downloads.


February 22, 2005: Ross Valley Reporter, pg.1: "When Dave Getz left New York for the Bay Area, he hoped to find success as an artist. A few years later he found himself drumming in the band that made Janis Joplin famous..."
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January 4, 2007
Marin IJ Article by Paul Liberatore : Still a piece of his heart 
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