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James Gurley | Influential guitarist, 69

James Gurley, the brilliant lead guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company, the psychedelic rock band that propelled Janis Joplin to fame, has died in California two days before his 70th birthday.

Surviving members of Big Brother said Mr. Gurley died Sunday in a Palm Springs hospital after suffering a heart attack.

Peter Albin, one of the band's founding members, called Mr. Gurley one of the most influential musicians of the psychedelic era that emerged out of the San Francisco music scene in the mid-1960s.

He melded a wild, self-taught fingerpicking style with a creative genius for customizing electric guitars and amplifiers. Albin said Mr. Gurley revolutionized lead guitar sounds and influenced practically every other guitarist of the era.

Mr. Gurley is survived by his wife and two sons. - AP