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Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin on the cover of her posthumously-released live album In Concert

Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970) was an American blues-influenced rock, R&B, and soul singer and occasional songwriter with a distinctive voice. Joplin released four albums as the frontwoman for several bands from 1967 to a posthumous release in 1971.

Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. She grew up listening to blues musicians such as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton and singing in the local choir. Joplin graduated from Jefferson High School in Port Arthur in 1960 and went to college at the University of Texas in Austin, though she never completed a degree. There, she began singing blues and folk music with friends.

Cultivating a rebellious manner that could be viewed as "liberated", Joplin styled herself after the beat poets, left Texas for San Francisco in 1963, lived in North Beach, and worked occasionally as a folk singer. Around this time her drug use began to increase, and she acquired a reputation as a "speed freak" and occasional heroin user. She also used other intoxicants. She was a heavy drinker throughout her career, and her trademark beverage was Southern Comfort.

After a return to Port Arthur to recuperate, she again moved to San Francisco in 1966, where her bluesy vocal style saw her join Big Brother and The Holding Company, a band that was gaining some renown among the nascent hippie community in Haight-Ashbury. The band signed a deal with independent Mainstream Records and recorded an eponymously titled album in 1967. However, the lack of success of their early singles led to the album being withheld until after their subsequent success.

The band's big break came at the Monterey Pop Festival, which included a version of Big Mama Thornton's Ball and Chain and featured a barnstorming vocal by Joplin. (The D.A. Pennebaker documentary Monterey Pop captured Cass Elliott in the crowd silently mouthing "Wow" during part of Joplin's performance.) Their 1968 album Cheap Thrills featured more raw emotional performances and made Joplin's name.

Splitting from Big Brother, she formed a backup group, named the Kozmic Blues Band, which backed her on I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! 1969 (year she played at Woodstock). That group broke up, and Joplin then formed the Full Tilt Boogie Band. The result was the posthumously released Pearl (1971), which featured a hit single in the form of Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee and the wry social commentary of Mercedes-Benz, written by beat poet Michael McClure.

Her last public appearance was on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970, where she said that she was going to attend her 10-year high school reunion, although she had formerly said when in high school there she was "laughed out of class, out of school, out of town". She made it there, but it would be one if the last decisions of her life.

Shortly thereafter, Joplin died of an overdose of unusually pure heroin on October 4, 1970 in a Los Angeles, California motel room, at the age of 27. She was cremated in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, and her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean. The album Pearl was released six weeks after her death. The movie The Rose, with Bette Midler in the lead role, was loosely based on Joplin's life.

She is now remembered best for her powerful, distinctive voice, which was significantly divergent from the soft folk-influenced styles more common at the time, as well as for her lyrical themes of pain and loss.

Samples

  • Download sample of "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" from I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

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She is now remembered best for her powerful, distinctive voice, which was significantly divergent from the soft folk-influenced styles more common at the time, as well as for her lyrical themes of pain and loss. Recently, he has played with John Sebastian and the J-Band, a jug band including Fritz Richmond from the Even Dozen Jug Band, Yank Rachell, an original jug-band leader, and Geoff Muldaur. The movie The Rose, with Bette Midler in the lead role, was loosely based on Joplin's life. In the '70s, Sebastian had a hit with the theme song to the Welcome Back, Kotter TV show, which found new life decades later when a sample from it became the hook for rapper Mase's 2004 hit "Welcome Back". The album Pearl was released six weeks after her death. The Lovin' Spoonful became part of the American response to the British Invasion and was noted for such folk-flavored hits as "Jug Band Music", "Do You Believe in Magic," "Summer In the City," "Daydream," "Nashville Cats," "Did You Ever have to Make Up Your Mind," "Six O'Clock," and "Younger Girl." The chart-topping band were originally to perform on the TV show that became The Monkees and also gained an added bit of publicity when Butler replaced Jim Rado in the role of Claude for a sold-out four-month run with the Broadway production of the rock musical Hair. She was cremated in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, and her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean. The band also featured popular drummer-vocalist Joseph Campbell Butler.

Shortly thereafter, Joplin died of an overdose of unusually pure heroin on October 4, 1970 in a Los Angeles, California motel room, at the age of 27. Sebastian was joined by Zal Yanovsky in the Spoonful, which was named after a Mississippi John Hurt song. She made it there, but it would be one if the last decisions of her life. He came up through the Even Dozen Jug Band and the Mugwumps, which split to form the Lovin' Spoonful and the Mamas and Papas. Her last public appearance was on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970, where she said that she was going to attend her 10-year high school reunion, although she had formerly said when in high school there she was "laughed out of class, out of school, out of town". He grew up surrounded by music and musicians, including Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie and hearing such players as Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt in his own neighborhood. The result was the posthumously released Pearl (1971), which featured a hit single in the form of Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee and the wry social commentary of Mercedes-Benz, written by beat poet Michael McClure. His father, also named John Sebastian, was a noted classical harmonica player and his mother was a radio script writer.

That group broke up, and Joplin then formed the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Sebastian was born in Greenwich Village in New York City. Splitting from Big Brother, she formed a backup group, named the Kozmic Blues Band, which backed her on I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! 1969 (year she played at Woodstock). He is best known as a founder of the Lovin' Spoonful, a band named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (The D.A. Pennebaker documentary Monterey Pop captured Cass Elliott in the crowd silently mouthing "Wow" during part of Joplin's performance.) Their 1968 album Cheap Thrills featured more raw emotional performances and made Joplin's name. John Sebastian (born March 17, 1944) is an American songwriter and harmonica player. The band's big break came at the Monterey Pop Festival, which included a version of Big Mama Thornton's Ball and Chain and featured a barnstorming vocal by Joplin.

However, the lack of success of their early singles led to the album being withheld until after their subsequent success. The band signed a deal with independent Mainstream Records and recorded an eponymously titled album in 1967. After a return to Port Arthur to recuperate, she again moved to San Francisco in 1966, where her bluesy vocal style saw her join Big Brother and The Holding Company, a band that was gaining some renown among the nascent hippie community in Haight-Ashbury. She was a heavy drinker throughout her career, and her trademark beverage was Southern Comfort.

She also used other intoxicants. Around this time her drug use began to increase, and she acquired a reputation as a "speed freak" and occasional heroin user. Cultivating a rebellious manner that could be viewed as "liberated", Joplin styled herself after the beat poets, left Texas for San Francisco in 1963, lived in North Beach, and worked occasionally as a folk singer. There, she began singing blues and folk music with friends.

Joplin graduated from Jefferson High School in Port Arthur in 1960 and went to college at the University of Texas in Austin, though she never completed a degree. She grew up listening to blues musicians such as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton and singing in the local choir. Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. Joplin released four albums as the frontwoman for several bands from 1967 to a posthumous release in 1971.

Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970) was an American blues-influenced rock, R&B, and soul singer and occasional songwriter with a distinctive voice. Download sample of "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" from I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!.

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