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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

x

Track List: The Pearl Sessions

Disc 1

1. Move Over

2. Cry Baby

3. A Woman Left Lonely

4. Half Moon

5. Buried Alive In The Blues

6. My Baby

7. Me And Bobby McGee

8. Mercedes Benz

9. Trust Me

10. Get It While You Can

11. Me And Bobby McGee (The Mono Single Masters)

12. Half Moon (The Mono Single Masters)

13. Cry Baby (The Mono Single Masters)

14. Get It While You Can (The Mono Single Masters)

15. Move Over (The Mono Single Masters)

16. A Woman Left Lonely (The Mono Single Masters)

Disc 2

1. Overheard In The Studio...

2. Get It While You Can (Take 3 - 7.27.70)

3. Overheard In The Studio...

4. Get It While You Can (Take 5 - 7.27.70)

5. Overheard In The Studio...

6. Move Over (Take 6 - 7.27.70)

7. Move Over (Take 13 - 7.28.70)

8. Move Over (Take 17 - 7.28.70)

9. Me And Bobby McGee (Demo Version - 7.28.70)

10. Me And Bobby McGee (Take 5 - Alternate - 7.28.70)

11. Cry Baby (Alternate Version - 9.5.70)

12. A Woman Left Lonely (Alternate Vocal - 9.9.70)

13. Overheard In The Studio...

14. My Baby (Alternate Take - 9.9.70)

15. Overheard In The Studio...

16. Get It While You Can (Take 3 - 9.11.70)

17. My Baby (Alternate Take - 9.24.70)

18. Pearl (Instrumental - 10.10.70)

19. Tell Mama (Live - 7.28.70)

20. Half Moon (Live - 8.3.70)

x

Track List: The Woodstock Experience

Disc 1

1. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)

2. Maybe

3. One Good Man

4. As Good As Yyou've Been To This World

5. To Love Somebody

6. Kozmic Blues

7. Little Girl Blue

8. Work Me, Lord

Disc 2

1. Raise Your Hand (Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)(Previously Unreleased)

2. As Good As You've Been To This World(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)(Previously Unreleased)

3. To Love Somebody(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

4. Summertime(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

5. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

6. Kozmic Blues(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

7. Can't Turn You Loose (Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)(Previously Unreleased)

8. Work Me, Lord(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

9. Piece Of My Heart(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

10. Ball And Chain(Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair,Sunday,August 17,1969)

x

Track List: 18 Essential Songs

1. Trouble In Mind

2. Down On Me

3. Bye, Bye Baby

5. Piece Of My Heart

6. I Need A Man To Love

7. Summertime

8. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)

9. One Good Man

10. Kozmic Blues

11. Raise Your Hand

12. Tell Mama

13. Move Over

14. Mercedes Benz

15. Get It While You Can

16. Half Moon

17. Trust Me

18. Me And Bobby McGee

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Piece Of My Heart

2. Summertime

3. Try

4. Cry Baby

5. Me And Bobby McGee

6. Down On Me (Live)

7. Get It While You Can

8. Bye, Bye Baby

9. Move Over

10. Ball And Chain (Live)

11. Maybe

12. Mercedes Benz

x

Track List: Pearl

1. Move Over

2. Cry Baby

3. A Woman Left Lonely

4. Half Moon

5. Buried Alive In The Blues

6. My Baby

7. Me And Bobby McGee

8. Mercedes Benz

9. Trust Me

10. Get It While You Can

11. Tell Mama

13. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)

14. Cry Baby

x

Track List: I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

1. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)

2. Maybe

3. One Good Man

4. As Good As You've Been To This World

5. To Love Somebody

6. Kozmic Blues

7. Little Girl Blue

8. Work Me, Lord

9. Dear Landlord

x

Track List: Big Brother & The Holding Company

1. Bye, Bye Baby

2. Easy Rider

3. Intruder

4. Light Is Faster Than Sound

5. Call On Me

6. Women Is Losers

8. Down On Me

10. All Is Loneliness

Comments

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Rock on our past
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There will be anything like the past anything in our future anything like the days where we felt safe !
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Janis one of the greatest of all time,
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miss you no one can replace you!
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Amazing... wish I could have seen her in concert.
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Not many artists can make you feel it the way she did. You can hear & feel her pain, loneliness, joy, & bad-a**ness in every note she sang. RIP sis.
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kensheller
BEYOND IT ALL !!!
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u leave me awe struck, i can feel the pain in you, and the hair on my arm, well ...
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Such a powerful voice, so much soul
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The greatest female singer of all time, hands down. If I'm having a bad day all I need is to crank up some Janis. Nobody does it better.
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NEVER SAW ANY PICTURE OF HER WITH ANY BOOZE OTHER THAN SOUTHERN COMFORT
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kecour123
Untouchable! ! ? God, what we missed. So above most of today's pop female vocalists.
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lbollman9
Listen to Little Girl Blue, written in 1935, interpreted so touchingly by Janis on the Tom Jones Show in 1969.
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lbollman9
Little Girl Blue - this song from 1935 interpreted so touchingly by Janis.
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Don't compromise yourself.
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dlsmith826
Saw her in a concert in 1970 in San Francisco. When she came out on stage with a bottle of Jack Daniels I knew I loved her.
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watched documentary on you Janis, you were probably the only good singer that is not auto tuned this days all singers have to be this days are skinny pretty or hot.Rest in peace see you in heaven XOXO
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The first time i heard her raspy, musical voice i knew i was in a totally different world. And let me tell you, its SO MUCH BETTER! RIP JANIS!
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I've always thought my mom looks a bit like Janis. Mom was adopted, so maybe they were related.
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shawnvw1
gixel is a troll
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memohill5ta
Janis love from mexico great music Rip :(
Report as inappropriate
Some People stand out for all wrong reasons only too confuse the Proud....or Wise....GO FIGURE....A TRUE SPIRIT....JA N I S . . . R E S T IN PEACE....SEE YOU IN HEAVEN.....X X X X X X O O O O O O O
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MY first girl crush
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In 1969 I was 19, and had heard all that music. I do have a big smile on my face ,telling you this...
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I think she pulls her hair pull out of her dirty bandana. All us girls done it a few times...
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Love you girl...
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dragonlady60 8 8
SING IT JANIS RIP
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martha_lugo
Heart, soul and in your Spirit...for e v e r no one like Janis Joplin
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kensheller
No artist gives more. Unreal. Greatness.
Report as inappropriate
got too try just a little bit harder
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geraldine.eh i n g e r
Woodstock she was wonderfull ,! I got a. kiss from her....
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Saw her at Irvine Auditorium at Penn in Philadelphia . Soul Survivors opened. Jaw dropping performance.
Report as inappropriate
She was, & is still the baddest chic around to this day.
I wish i could of seen her in concert. To experience her in person...
Rip~Pearl
Report as inappropriate
nowitsmine9
Don't hold back now! Preach it Pearl !
Report as inappropriate
fselker
Why does her race matter (first sentence)?
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Could listen to Kozmic Blues over and over and over. Never get tired of Janis.
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vzw.d4197.01
She does not sound like Melissa E.Melissa copies her.Janis sounds like no one else
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ddanyswap1
Miss you Janis
Report as inappropriate
Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche sold for $1.8 million at an auction.
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She is an artist of great social and political import
Report as inappropriate
Janis is Simply on Another Page from other Artists ..She is the REAL DEAL and I Adore Her More than words can say !! As Rock Singers go, either Female Or Male, She was THE VERY BEST of them all !!! xoxo
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One of a kind
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Janis.... Always Janis! ..
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Love ol Janis whatta singer
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Reaches my heart...
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Had more love than anybody will ever know ,Life was way to short! To sad!
Report as inappropriate
Saw Janis in Austin, Tx. Before she went to the west coast. A small bar. Nobody knew who she was. Wish she had stayed in Texas. Maybe she would still be with us.
Report as inappropriate
lucindabella r d
I live 2 small towns away from Port Arthur where she was from & me & a lot of other people from here LOVE JANIS!!!
Report as inappropriate
Nobody can ever sing the blues like Janis did ie., Ball and Chain
Report as inappropriate
Me and Bobby McGee was written by Kris Cristoferson , interesting she chose that song. By the way I am Bobbie McGee
Show more

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