Janis went up to Austin, Texas in 1966 where she was planning to join a rock group called the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. At about that time Travis Rivers came to town. He was sent by Chet Helms to try to lure Janis back to the Coast one more and final time. She was needed, Chet said, to forge the last dazzling link in a circle of musicians called Big Brother and the Holding Company. Janis would later recall, “How I happened to join Big Brother? Well, Chet Helms sent Travis Rivers to get me. What I usually say is that I wanted to leave Texas, but that’s not what really happened. I didn’t want to leave. But he was such a good fuck! How could I not go!” Janis perpetuated that story in her interviews with David Dalton, insisting that she was “no star” and telling him with raunchy elaboration that she was “fucked into being in Big Brother.” In Buried Alive, Myra Friedman had another theory. She wrote, “Travis may be a “good ball” or not, but his sexual prowess had absolutely nothing to do with her decision to leave Texas. Her ambition – striving, nagging, persistent, screaming ambition – was there all along. It was clear in her conversations with Mr. Giarritano; it was clear in her letters to Jim Langdon; and it was decidedly, unmistakably clear in her phone conversations with Chet Helms.
Janis’s only reluctance was the fear of drugs.” Travis and Janis talked about the risks of going back to San Francisco. There were the drugs and the real question if she could sing rock ‘n’ roll. But the prospect of becoming a schoolteacher after graduation didn’t sit too well with Janis. Travis says that he took her to an Austin bar where they shared a beer and listened to a rock band. After hearing several songs, Janis slapped him across the chest and said,”That’s what I wanna do.” Travis drove Janis to see her parents and to discuss the situation. He waited outside and when she came out he asked, “So what did they say?” and she said, “They agreed it would be okay.” In reality she didn’t even talk to her parents, it was a complete surprise to them. She knew that if things didn’t work out with Big Brother she had Chet’s promise that he would buy her a bus ticket home.
Janis left Austin on May 30 with Travis and a carload of people. They arrived in San Francisco June 4, 1966. She stayed with him for a short while before getting a room on Pine Street. In Buried Alive, Travis reflected on his relationship with Janis, “I really loved Janis. I asked her to marry me, but she put on this tough act. She was going to be a star and get this chance to be with all these guys, and she told me, anyway, that that’s why she said no.”