An iconic rock, soul, and blues singer-songwriter.
Janis Lyn Joplin was born in the small oil town of Port Arthur in Texas, where she suffered from harassment in school for not fitting in. She retreated to painting and reading. Later she developed a strong relationship with San Francisco, which both inspired her freedom of expression, and overwhelmed her with the temptations of its drug scene.
After trying to study in college, singing in folk clubs, and briefly working as a computer programmer, she rose to fame as a singer at 24. It was when she was invited to join the psychedelic-rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, capturing the audiences in a performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. In 1968 she was celebrated in the national magazines and the hits charts.
She later moved into a solo career, performing at the legendary Woodstock festival, touring Canada and Europe. During the recordings of her fourth album, she was found dead in a hotel room, holding $4.50 change in her hand. The announced cause of her death was a heroin overdose. She was only 27 years old and became a part of what the media coined as “27 Club” – music stars who died at that age, including Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. Her body was cremated in a small ceremony attended by ten persons.
Her exceptional spirit – expressed in her unique voice, hairstyle, outfits, “volcanic” stage presence, and general behavior as an unapologetic sexually liberated woman – has inspired many followers in the music industry, fans, critics, conspiracies, films, radio shows, books, documentaries, artworks, and a musical.
She is canonized in popular memory as the poster girl for sixties counterculture.
“I Just Made Love to 25,000 People, But I’m Goin Home Alone”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- Among her many lovers – with both men and women – was the poet and singer Leonard Cohen, who devoted his popular song “Chelsea Hotel no.2” to Joplin.
- Her last album was released after her death, under the title “Pearl”, which was her nickname.
- She admired soul singer Bessie Smith and paid for a tombstone to be erected at her grave in Philadelphia.