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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. The band played their last show in Paris without Pete Doherty. The movie The Rose, with Bette Midler in the lead role, was loosely based on Joplin's life. The Libertines officially disbanded at the end of 2004. The album Pearl was released six weeks after her death. In the interview with Kirsty Wark, Doherty talked openly about his addictions to heroin and crack cocaine, stating that "I'm not a nihilist, I don't want to die", and talked about the breakdown of his relationship with Carl Barat. She was cremated in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, and her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean. The piece featured Doherty's first-ever major television interview as well as an acoustic performance of "Music When the Lights Go Out".

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. On 21 December 2004, a 12 minute feature on Pete Doherty was broadcast on BBC2's current affairs programme Newsnight. She made it there, but it would be one if the last decisions of her life. Carl Barat told NME that he plans to leave the Libertines at the end of 2004 if Pete Doherty doesn't clean up from his on-going drug problems. 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". In September 2004 given a community service order after being found with a flick knife in his car, a "welcome back" looked unlikely. 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. However he recently formed his own band, Babyshambles and has failed to kick his drug habit.

That group broke up, and Joplin then formed the Full Tilt Boogie Band. After serving one month in jail he rejoined the band in October 2003, However In June 2004 he was kicked out of the band again because of narcotic problems, but the band has promised that "When he cleans up his addictions he will be immediately welcomed back into the band" [1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3852977.stm). 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). The remaining members toured without him in August and September. (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. Peter Doherty became estranged from the band, and was convicted of burglary of bandmate Carl Barat's flat in September 2003. 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. Despite their success and critical acclaim (especially in the UK), the band has fallen upon difficult times of late.

However, the lack of success of their early singles led to the album being withheld until after their subsequent success. In their attitude they are almost always compared to The Sex Pistols due to their chaotic and energetic live peformances and, either refreshingly or depressingly depending how you see these things, Pete Doherty's instability and nihilistic, self destructive behavior. The band signed a deal with independent Mainstream Records and recorded an eponymously titled album in 1967. Many of their lyrics refer to elements of British life, use English/cockney slang and are delivered in a style reminiscent of Joe Strummer (though Pete Doherty is by no means an unoriginal vocalist). 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 has been compared to many classic British rock n' roll bands, as their angle on rock n' roll is uniquely English. Their sound is often compared to the sound of The Jam, The Kinks' early records as well as The Clash's first album and early singles. She was a heavy drinker throughout her career, and her trademark beverage was Southern Comfort. It was followed in 2004 by their second album, simply entitled The Libertines.

She also used other intoxicants. The single's success was followed up by the album Up The Bracket, produced by punk icon Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite. Around this time her drug use began to increase, and she acquired a reputation as a "speed freak" and occasional heroin user. Their debut single, "What A Waster" (2002), produced by former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, was immediately seized upon by the English press for its liberal use of profanity and English colloquialism. 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. The line-up consists of Pete Doherty (vocals/guitar), Carl Barat (vocals/guitar), John Hassall (bass) and Gary Powell (drums). There, she began singing blues and folk music with friends. The Libertines were a critically acclaimed British rock and roll band noted for their chaotic live outings and uniquely English take on punk rock.

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. The Libertines (2004). She grew up listening to blues musicians such as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton and singing in the local choir. Up The Bracket (2002). 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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