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Janis Joplin

The greatest white female rock singer of the 1960s, Janis Joplin was also a great blues singer, making her material her own with her wailing, raspy, supercharged emotional delivery. First rising to stardom as the frontwoman for San Francisco psychedelic band Big Brother & the Holding Company, she left the group in the late '60s for a brief and uneven (though commercially successful) career as a solo artist. Although she wasn't always supplied with the best material or most sympathetic musicians, her best recordings, with both Big Brother and on her own, are some of the most exciting performances of her era. She also did much to redefine the role of women in rock with her assertive, sexually forthright persona and raunchy, electrifying on-stage presence.

Joplin was raised in the small town of Port Arthur, TX, and much of her subsequent personal difficulties and unhappiness has been attributed to her inability to fit in with the expectations of the conservative community. She'd been singing blues and folk music since her teens, playing on occasion in the mid-'60s with future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. There are a few live pre-Big Brother recordings (not issued until after her death), reflecting the inspiration of early blues singers like Bessie Smith, that demonstrate she was well on her way to developing a personal style before hooking up with the band. She had already been to California before moving there permanently in 1966, when she joined a struggling early San Francisco psychedelic group, Big Brother & the Holding Company. Although their loose, occasionally sloppy brand of bluesy psychedelia had some charm, there can be no doubt that Joplin -- who initially didn't even sing lead on all of the material -- was primarily responsible for lifting them out of the ranks of the ordinary. She made them a hit at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where her stunning version of "Ball and Chain" (perhaps her very best performance) was captured on film. After a debut on the Mainstream label, Big Brother signed a management deal with Albert Grossman and moved on to Columbia. Their second album, Cheap Thrills, topped the charts in 1968, but Joplin left the band shortly afterward, enticed by the prospects of stardom as a solo act.

Joplin's first album, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, was recorded with the Kozmic Blues Band, a unit that included horns and retained just one of the musicians that had played with her in Big Brother (guitarist Sam Andrew). Although it was a hit, it wasn't her best work; the new band, though more polished musically, was not nearly as sympathetic accompanists as Big Brother, purveying a soul-rock groove that could sound forced. That's not to say it was totally unsuccessful, boasting one of her signature tunes in "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)."

For years, Joplin's life had been a roller coaster of drug addiction, alcoholism, and volatile personal relationships, documented in several biographies. Musically, however, things were on the upswing shortly before her death, as she assembled a better, more versatile backing outfit, the Full Tilt Boogie Band, for her final album, Pearl (ably produced by Paul Rothchild). Joplin was sometimes criticized for screeching at the expense of subtlety, but Pearl was solid evidence of her growth as a mature, diverse stylist who could handle blues, soul, and folk-rock. "Mercedes Benz," "Get It While You Can," and Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" are some of her very best tracks. Tragically, she died before the album's release, overdosing on heroin in a Hollywood hotel in October 1970. "Me and Bobby McGee" became a posthumous number one single in 1971, and thus the song with which she is most frequently identified. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Nobody can ever sing the blues like Janis did ie., Ball and Chain
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Me and Bobby McGee was written by Kris Cristoferson , interesting she chose that song. By the way I am Bobbie McGee
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Good bio, but I would include Cheap Thrills in the Selected Discography. . . j u s t sayin'.
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Ditto, cinemadude. Her talent - so magnificent.
Her life - so tragic!
I''ve loved her for a very long time.
Can't believe I haven't seen that movie!
I'm gonna.
Promise.
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Dear god she was an incredible artist. They don't make em like that anymore. RIP sweet Janis.
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Yeah... I remember when the movie ~ the rose~ came out... Bette did do an amaaaazing job!
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Her voice and lyrics speak to my soul...one of the greatest!!
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dragonlady60 8 8
See. The. Movie. The. Rose...I have..Bette did. S amazing. Job
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Pure... Raw... Talent...
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Agree
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Trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday so f**king true!
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sweetlou275
Legendary singer that had so much more to give, but left us too soon. Her music sounds as fresh today as it did then. I really enjoyed my conversation s with Sam Andrew many years ago, and now he's up there making great music with Janis again after all these years. What a hell of a band there must be up above.
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Another crying shame for her to die so young what she would have been.
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Did you know me and bobby McGee is actually a cover
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majitoquerid o
janis have been in my heart since the late 60's love her and her style of music too bad she couldn't find a dude to make her be alive without junk
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artist685
LOVE JANIS! One of the best EVER!
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Yep
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First heard Janis when I was 8, the Pearl album had come out. Still have it. No other woman in Rock, Soul or any genre sing or rock harder than Janis. No disrespect to Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar and of course Chrissie Hyde.
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ANON.
The very first time I heard her first singing, I could hear her soul crying out. Janis didn't have everything she wanted in life, she was looking for her soul mate and she suffered many a one nights looking for true love from many. the booze and drugs was the only thing she had to cling to, it filled the loneliness, all she really wanted was one good man who wanted her for her! I loved you then and I still am in love with you now. R.I.P. babe
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A woman left lonely had one of my daughters in tears at 16
All 5 of my kids appreciate the greats
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Another artist with a name starting with J that died too soon...Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Jim Croce, Jimi Hendrix...
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I luv her she was the best !! Voice!
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This is real music!!!
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One of The Greatest
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Janis is a woman who rocked an I just wish she didn't go out so soon the great ones always do!!!!!!
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My idol! She follwed her own heart. She did things her own way and what/way she likes. She was and still is a leader. Not follwers like all these sheep nowadays that think something is popular or cool and have to get it or copy them. I will never be a brainwashed sheep either!
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cowboysfanno 0 1
She is one of the greatest voices that we lost to early. I remember seeing her in Golden Gate Park at the free concerts they use to have there. Back in the 1960's. When ever I hear her songs it reminds me of that time and place. Thank You Janis
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Best singer EVER WISH I COULD HAVE MET HER I CAN SING JUST. LIKE HER
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209ricm
Janis could singggg
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asbiphone
Busted flat in Baton Rouge....
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asbiphone
Love her!! A great talent taken way to soon.
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Nice.!!
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Today the controversy is a dress, at my house it's sugar, coffee additive or poison. Janis stated , Hippies and Beatniks, top dogs and under dogs . That's why I personally listen to those time bending songs.
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doyaldanny
I still love her work to this day. To date i still say I was born in the wrong era. Wish she was still with us. As well as many of the great bands/singer s that the world has lost. many of the other great bands/Singer ' s / solo artists, and I will strongly agree with kat4552.
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I saw her at the San Diego sports arena in 1968
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She was the most awesome miss her music
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artist685
LOVE HER SOULFUL VOICE. SHE WAS ONE OF THE BEST!
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A powerful woman, that makes me feel on top of the world ♥
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Feeling good was good enough for me
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dragonlady60 8 8
my fave...all togather now
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She sounds like Melissa Etheridge
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Janis sings to everyone's soul she is very miss by millions
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Big Brother and Janis have stood the test of time.
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I love this song.
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I'm only 22 and I've been listening to Janis for as long as I can remember. I feel like I know her on such a deep level that she's like a long lost aunt of mine. Although I know that's not the case, it's just how I feel. I even have her tattoo that she had on her wrist tattooed on mine. (: <3
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I found Janis Joplin GREATEST HITS, Is paewn shop.one dollar
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Should a could a bookmarked Joplin
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Aaah kelly clarkson!!!! ! ! ! ! #VanossGamin g
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Greatest singer ever!
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villanuevaro
Her voice makes me cry. She sings from her heart❤️ she's amazing.
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