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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Her best song my type of woman no bull drink me under the table fat bottom woman
I get her! Very talented. shame drugs took another artist. If not for being close to delivering my first beloved child I would have seen her live at WOODSTOCK. My son was much more important, no regrets. luv ya Janis RIP and my son Troy '1969-2012
She sings from the heart
Janis is the biggest thing in my life my family and friends make fun of me saying it's not music and that it's just screaming but they don't feel like janis and we do. Music is about feeling man get into the groove it's all about janis
Its a good thing I wasn't around when this woman was alive! I connect with her style, her music, her persona. I probably would have followed her to the the edge of the earth. I know every word to every song...read every book and all I can say about Janis Joplin is this...WOW, what a woman. Wish I could have been there with her.
I've been a fan since the 70's, great artist, the best in thhe blues
My daughter is named Joplin. I truly believe that janis joplin is one of the pioneers in the true blues rock. I love her sexy, raspy voice. Wish I could have been around to see her live!
Queen of blues. I love that dirt she has in her voice, it's very unique and I cannot name another artist that can compare to her. <3 Janis
This woman was all kinds of incredible.
She's really my favorite woman in rock.
packedfunk
Janis greatest gifts were her intensity & her 7 octave voice.
The great Janis Joplin!
I hear janis, I hear etta james 2 heads of the same dragon. Miss u janis
I REMEMBER WHEN JANIS AND JIMI HENDRIX BOTH DIED AND IT WAS A REAL SAD TIME. I HAVE TO SAY THAT SOMETHING ABOUT THE MUSIC OF THE TIME I GREW IN, STILL HAS A REAL BIG IMPACT EVEN TODAY.
THE STONES
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE
JEFFERSON STARSHIP
THE WHO
MOODY BLUES
BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD
THE ANIMALS
PINK FLOYD
FLEETWOOD MAC
AND COUNTLESS OTHERS

This lady put everything into her music....wha t else could we ask for
isaltz5
Janis was on the Dick Cavett show, going on about her terrible high school years in Port Arthur, ostracized, mocked and despised. Cavett asked her if she ever returned after her success, she broke into a huge smile and just said yeah, heh, heh heh.
She's the reason I drank Southern Comfort as a teen and nine out ten times woke up on somebody's lawn. I bet I'm not the only one Janis drank under the table.
Love the passion, sound, soul...Her music is amazing.. Throw your head back and feel the power of her music...

Anyone see The Rose
my sweet cosmic witch !
awsome station
Goosebumps.. . . Y a know....Goos e b u m p s . . .
<3 some Janis Joplin.
Why bring race into the assessment? Janis Joplin was a BLUES singer, first and foremost...W h i t e , black, green or whatever, I have never seen any singer pour their soul into a mike like that woman.
the real easy e 1953 she had soul and sang with it rock on sister j
Does my soul good
cavelitist
:) :) :)
She died while I was in Viet Nam in the army. I wondered what was happening on both sides of the ocean. Janis, Hendrix, Morrison all in quick succession.. . . T o o much too soon
Watching Janis on stage is one the most memorable music experiences of my existence, rock on Janice you are loved......
mpeterson172
Say hello to my mom up there in rock and roll heaven. She introduced me to your music.
Hippies!
Janis gave her all when she sang;too bad she had so many demons;but her music lives on..!
Sings every song with mad passion!! Possessed with music... It was INCREDIBLE to watch!!!
I love her so much! :D
Why does Janis Joplin have ONLY 6,201 likes?...She should have wayyyy more!!
When she performed, she gave it all on the stage, very SOULFUL artists. Oh yeah
Gone too soon. I'm going to give her such a big ol' hug when I get there...
hflewallen
This is listed incorrectly (after the lyrics) as written by Johnny Cash - It actually was written by and officially attributed to Kris Kristofferso n and Fred Foster.
Luv u Miss Janis Joplin, ur my favorite artist by far!!! Wish I could of been around 4 the woodstock era....follo w 4 follow
rahman1708
WONDER YEARS BROUGHT ME HERE!
She died way too young. She could really belt.
1202823822
I wanna to be there also in the 60's & both my best ever Janis & Jimi Hendrix
I was there for the sixties, as well, and thinking about them now, the word extreme comes to mind. All the protesting, drugs & rock - certainly Janis and Jimi were both extreme artists - so much so that by today's standards, they're both outstanding musicians - she as a blue singer and Jimi guitar. I'll certainly never forget Jimi, Janis or the 60's may they all three RIP
u2freebird
I was there in the sixties. When we lost Janis, the Queen of the Blues, and the Jimmy, the best guitar player ever, both of overdoses, we thought the government was behind their deaths.. People would have followed these two through anything. Stop the war and such. Janis lived by the motto: Don't be afraid to be different and we all loved and still do love her for that. Long live the Queen!!
Janis Joplin is the best female blues singer this world has ever seen she is and will always be the Queen of Psychedelic Rock
Long live Janis Joplin
We will always miss u✌��✌��
spliffm2002
Janis is my IDIOL! LOVE HER VOICE! i named my daughter after Janis
Janis Joplin died for our sins. My heart is broken that I'll never get to see her or meet her. She's my hero. She's the only female rockstar that I like other than a select few. ✌
hodgdons7
Really sad ... her end days. One of the best female blues artists ever.
Her best music is the live recordings. The studio can't contain something like that.
I absolutely love Janis, there will never be another... wish I was alive to experience her music live, (I'm only 21). LOVE HER MUSIC! I will never stop listening...
alohakghi
The saddest testament of her life is the fact it took her family nearly 25 years to claim her royalties. It was almost as if they held her in such contempt that they didn't bother with the 2 mil that was waiting for them. Her gift and her legacy is their loss but most especially ours. She will always be one of the greatest blues singers of all time.
alohakghi
There is an ongoing argument whether Joplin betrayed Big Brother for the slicked up Clive Davis version of Full Tilt Boogie. Regardless, I feel Pearl is a triumph!
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