Janis Joplin - Biography


Janis Joplin Biography

Janis JoplinJust as you might remember where you were on 9-11 or when Kennedy got shot or when the Challenger exploded, you probably remember where you were the first time you heard Janis Joplin sing. Being somewhat distracted during the sixties, I asked a friend where he was. "For me, the first time was a magical experience. Not that I had the pleasure of hearing her in concert or performing in a club somewhere out on the coast. No such luck. I first experienced Janis in the sparsely furnished living room of a small apartment in suburban New Jersey. In the center of the room sat a hassock which also served as a table. Upon it was an ashtray, a ball of hash, and a small five-dollar battery powered transistor radio. A few friends and I were passing around the pipe listening to WNEW FM out of NYC when the DJ led into Another Piece of My Heart. The soulful sounds that enveloped us and strummed our every fiber had no business coming out of a small plastic box no bigger than a school book. But, they did. Hopelessly hooked on Joplin, next day I went out and bought Cheap Thrills and played it till the grooves wore out."

Unfortunately, my literary abilities are not sufficient to describe the awesome talent that was Janis Joplin. Here's some of what the Village Voice had to say about her in a February, 1968 review:

"Although not beautiful in the usual sense, she sure projects. Janis is a sex symbol in an unlikely package. Her belting, grooving style combines Bessie Smith's soul with the finesse of Aretha Franklin covered all over with a James Brown drive. She jumps and runs and pounces, vibrating the audience with solid sound. The range of her earthy dynamic voice seems almost without limits. At times, she seemed to be singing harmony with herself."

Biographical Facts

  • Born: Port Arthur, Texas, January 19, 1943
  • Died: Landmark Hotel, Los Angeles, October 4, 1970 from an accidental overdose of heroin
  • Musical Influences: Bessie Smith, Odetta and Leadbelly
  • Education: Jefferson High School in Port Arthur (graduated in 1960); Lamar College in Beaumont, Texas; University of Texas in Austin
  • Debuted at the Avalon Ballroom with Big Brother & the Holding Company on June 10, 1966
  • Appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival in California during summer of 1967 (June 16th)
  • Cheap Thrills released in August, 1968
  • I Got Dem Kozmic Blues Again, Mama" released in September 1969
  • Other Appearances: Woodstock, Newport 69 Pop Festival, the Texas International Festival, the Atlanta Pop Festival, the New Orleans Pop Festival
  • Pearl released posthumously 1971
  • She remains one of the top-selling U.S. musicians with 15.5 million albums sold.

Janis Joplin Quotes

  • "Don't compromise yourself; you are all you've got."
  • "I must be an optimist because a pessimist is never disappointed."
  • "I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday."
  • "Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers. You can fill your life up with ideas and still go home lonely. All you really have that really matters are feelings. That's what music is to me."
  • "Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable."
  • "Well, to summarize, Big Brother is doing great and I just may be a 'star' one day. You know, it's funny. As it gets closer and more probable, being a star is losing its meaning, but what ever it means I'm ready!" ~ from a letter to her mother, summer 1967
  • "My advice to everyone is come to California and I'll buy you a drink."
  • "On stage, I make love to 25,000 people; then, I go home alone."
  • "I wouldn't know. I'm a juicer." ~ response to a reporter's request for a definition of Acid Rock
  • "It's all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back."


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