Sam Andrew, the founding member of Janis Joplin's band Big Brother & The Holding Company, has died.

The 73 year old guitarist formed the group in the early 1960s and recruited Janis in 1966. Together they went on to record rock classics Piece of My Heart and Summertime.

He and Joplin quit the group in 1968 and recorded an album together. Andrew returned to Big Brother and the Holding Company after his leading lady's death in 1970.

He remained a group staple well into the 1990s.

News of his death was confirmed in a message posted to Big Brother and the Holding Company's Facebook page on Friday (13Feb15). It read: "Dear Friends, Yesterday, 10 weeks after his heart attack and the open-heart surgery that followed it, Sam lost his gallant fight to hold onto the life he lived so well. He died peacefully in (wife) Elise's arms at 5:15pm.

"There will be much more to say about him in the days to come and there will come a time when we will gather together to remember him. Now is a time for Elise to regather her strength after the long vigil she has kept and the vital role she played in overseeing Sam's care.

"For now we can all remember him in our own ways until we can remember him together. He lived his life in music and art and a loving marriage. It doesn't get much better than that."

As well as writing and recording music with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Andrew also scored films and composed classical music.