Sunday, January 8, 2012


Janis Joplin was born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas, and was the oldest of three kids. In school, she was shunned because of her less conservative nature and love of blues musicians and beatnik culture. "There was nobody like me in Port Arthur," Janis said, "I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn't hate n*ggers." She began singing as a teen, both in a choir and with friends. She graduated high school in 1960, and attended Lamar State and UT while singing folk songs in coffeehouses from Texas to California. In January 1963, Janis split for San Francisco "just to get away from Texas, because my head was in a much different place." She recorded a few blues standards with future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and got involved in the drug scene there before friends convinced her to return home, for fear of her health. Back in Port Arthur, she adopted a more modest lifestyle by avoiding drugs, wearing dresses, going back to college, getting engaged (the engagement was shortly terminated), and even getting a beehive 'do (!). Still, she continued to perform as a folk singer in Austin, Texas until 1966, when Chet Helms recruited her to sing for an all-male San Franciscan rock band: Big Brother and the Holding Company. Janis immediately caught the attention of all who experienced her performances, and Big Brother started gaining popularity and got a record deal. She was encouraged to stay off drugs for a while, but was soon pulled into the turbulent "free love/free drugs" atmosphere of the time. Janis also (famously) relapsed into drinking, especially her signature Southern Comfort. Janis lived with Country Joe McDonald in early 1967, but only for a few months. Other (rumored) romances that Janis had were with the likes of Eric Clapton, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix. Big Brother and the Holding Comapany (with Janis) performed at the famed Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, marking them as one of the front runners of psychedelic rock. Janis and Big Brother's Cheap Thrills (released in 1968) topped the charts and gave the group national recognition. Lured by the promise of solo stardom, she left the band to form the Kozmic Blues Band. They performed at Woodstock, another gathering of the great (hippie) musical talents of the country. With her new band, Janis made many TV appearances and toured Europe. They also performed at Woodstock, where Janis sang while completely drunk, but all in all, the audience had a good time. In September '69, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! was released to mixed reviews. By the end of the year, the band had dissolved. Janis then vacationed in Brazil, where she got clean and kicked her heroin habit. That didn't last long, though, and as soon as she returned to the States, she formed a new band, the Full Tilt Boogie Band. They toured for much of early 1970, and Janis' last performance took place in Boston in August. She and the band recorded an album with the Doors' producer, Paul Rothchild, that would later be released as Pearl. During these sessions, Janis became engaged to a Berkely student and (later) novelist, Seth Morgan and lived with him in the Landmark Motor Hotel. The hotel attracted drug sellers and users, which proved to be fatal to Janis. She passed away on October 4, 1970, leaving behind a legend of soulful singing, fantastic style, and an essential attitude - as Janis said, "Don't compromise yourself, you're all you've got."

As a young folk singer in Austin, TX in 1965

At the Monterey Pop Festival

At home in Larkspur, California

Wearing Linda Gravenites tunic and pants made from tablecloth

Performing "Honky Tonk Women" with Tina Turner

At Woodstock

With Big Brother and Holding Company

With Chet Helms

With Country Joe McDonald

With Dave Getz

With her dog, George

With Frank Reynolds

With Grace Slick

With Kozmic Blues Band on the Dick Cavett show

With Michael J. Pollard

With Noel Redding

With Sam Andrew

With Ted Strshensky and Peter Albin

 (All photos are my scans [please credit if you repost!] from Hippie, Piece of My Heart: A Portrait of Janis Joplin, Radical Rags, Swingin' Chicks of the '60s, and Time: Visions of the 60s.)