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This profile was last updated on 2/17/02  and contains information from public web pages.

Lee Ray Bittner

Wrong Lee Ray Bittner?

Employment History

  • Owner
    Power Surge
  • Drummer
    Dharma Consulting
  • Drummer
    Janis Joplin's Big Brother
  • Drummer-Turned-Restaurant Supply Company Owner
Web References
Lee Bittner: Former Joplin ..., 17 Feb 2002 [cached]
Lee Bittner: Former Joplin drummer plays in SM
Car crashes into milk truck in SM
Fallbrook youngsters gaining skills at Cal State San Marcos
Solana Beach
Lee Bittner: Former Joplin drummer plays in SM - 7/25/01 -
Lee Bittner: Former Joplin drummer plays in SM
So has drummer-turned-restaurant supply company owner Lee Bittner ---- to a degree.
A former drummer with Janis Joplin's Big Brother & the Holding Company, Bittner, 54, has toned down his personal act somewhat these days.But he maintains a lot of the core values of that youthful age which he combines with modern-day business acumen and a still-youthful approach to life.
Waldo Nilo / Staff Photographer
Lee Bittner talks at the Power Surge cafe in San Marcos about the years he played drums with Janis Joplin's Big Brother & the Holding Company.He continues to play locally at venues such as the Power Surge.
Bittner has returned to his first love ---- music-making ---- and plays gigs at places such as the new Pala Casino with an ad hoc blues band, as a regular at the San Marcos Power Surge Cafe Thursday Open Mike and on the open mike circuit.
A colorful and amiable guy, Bittner is loving it ---- every second of it.
"I've been working with a group called Blues Denial," Bittner said during a recent interview at the Power Surge."Joe Walsh came and sat in with us.Tonight I'll be out with a band ---- I don't even know its name ---- but we're playing at the new Pala Casino.It's pretty cool.The energy is amazing out there.I think life is great."
An El Cajon native, Bittner played drums at military bases in and around San Diego starting at age 15.Then he got bit by a certain bug.A place natives call simply "The City."You know: San Francisco.
"I played all over North Beach, all the clubs," Bittner said."Carol Doda's club.The strip joints.Lived in Sausalito, Tam Valley, and Marin (County) for seven years."
It was the Summer of Love.Haight and Ashbury streets: 1967-68.Hippies, acid, free love and good times rolling all around the San Francisco Bay.
"I got a gig with a band called Morning Glory," Bittner continued, a far-away gaze in his eyes."We did some gigs with Big Brother & the Holding Company.They introduced me to Janis.She was a great girl.They were so great they blew me away.
"The next decent gig I got was with Norman Greenbaum.
But Big Brother remembered a certain drummer with a big beat and asked Bittner to join the band on its last wild ride through America.Bill Graham got them gigs with groups such as The Allman Brothers Band, The James Gang, REO Speedwagon and Journey.And of course, Big Brother had a following all its own.
"Sam Andrew, Peter Albin, Kathy McDonald singing with us," Bittner said."That was the early '70s.Really the best times.Of course, Janis was gone and I couldn't work with her, which was a real bummer."
Big Brother broke up in 1972 and Bittner continued playing Bay area gigs through the mid-1970s.But life in The City had changed and that proverbial rock 'n' roll lifestyle "was killing me," he said.
"I needed a lifestyle change," Bittner said."I had been caught up with it all since the early '60s.It was great being a kid from the country in the scene.I was like a kid in a candy store.But it was killing me.I had to move back home."
"Personally I believe in a healthy and clean lifestyle," Bittner said."I gave all that other stuff up years ago. ...I love to see all the guys coming up around here now, really into music.It takes a lot of energy, time and desire.I would suggest they really strive to be successful in music but also go to school, get some real substance under your belt."
Bittner has become a popular mentor for members of the North County music scene.Fellow percussionist Rob Belgard called Bittner "an awesome guy.One of the greatest drummers there is ..."
"He is one of my favorite people to jam with," Belgard continued."One of the fun people.I got to sit in with him and this group Jody and Company from Escondido and it was a great jam session."
Mark DuBois, owner of Power Surge, has seen the Thursday Open Mike at his cafe become one of the most popular events in hip North County music circles and Bittner become an integral part of the scene.
"Lee is a great guy," DuBois said."He's a great player.We've got people from 16 to 60 years old playing here now and he gets along with everybody."
Contact staff writer Dan Weisman at (760) 761-4414 or
Dharma Consulting, 24 Sept 2009 [cached]
And our drummer, Lee Bittner is awesome. He played with Big Brother and the Holding Company back in the day. And he can totally keep time. He's the master of the beat.
Lee Ray Bittner is the ..., 14 Sept 2010 [cached]
Lee Ray Bittner is the drummer and percussionist. He started playing drums at the age of twelve. Originally inspired by his dad (drummer for Big Brother and The Holding Company), he quickly learned all the classic rock and roll of Elvis and the Beatles. As his insatiable appetite for music progressed, he drifted towards the harder edge and intricacies of heavy metal and progressive rock to satisfy his growing passion of the drums. Lee started to gain recognition as a sought after drummer playing the college circuit while going to school in Chico, CA . Lee Ray's playing is thoughtful, and dynamic as well as and powerful and thunderous.
"It just exploded and I've got ..., 28 Aug 2008 [cached]
"It just exploded and I've got the perfect lineup of guys," said an emphatic Nelson, a Point Reyes Station native, about his first rehearsal with drummer Lee Ray Bittner, bassist Mike Weiss, guitarist Danny Uzi, and keyboard player John Korty.
page5, 19 Nov 2006 [cached]
At Friar's Folley with drummer Lee Bittner-(Lee is the drummer heard on Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky".
Lee also toured with Big Brother and the Holding Company)
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