It's January 19, 1943, Janis Lyn Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. The name Riot Grrrl must have been invented on that very same day. I presume, JIMI HENDRIX would be the Riot Boy then. Both died much too young, but they left a very large heritage behind. But before Janis died on the 4th of October 1970, there happens more than in some people's lives reaching the age of eigthy or ninety. Let's see what takes place with the 'Queen of Hippies' in these twenty-seven years......
JANIS was the daughter of Dorothy and Seth Joplin. On school she was a very intelligent student - easily receiving straight-A's. JANIS was not really accepted, though. She was always more of a 'one of the boys-type'. Other students even started hating her, because of her crudeness and loudness. In 1960, JANIS graduated Thomas Jefferson High and it was that time she also explored her artistic talent. She sold paintings, started singing and moved to Los Angeles.
In 1962 JANIS returned to her hometown. She started singing in public and worked as a waitress at night. She even started making a commercial recording. But worse of all: she also began drinking heavily. Later that year, she moves to Austin and formed the WALTER CREEK BOYS with Powell St. John and Lanny Wiggins. But this didn't last very long and JANIS moved to San Francisco. She went singing in bars. Her repertoire captured songs of LEADBELLY and BESSIE SMITH. At that time drugs came into her life and changed her completely. Fall '64, she even started dealing drugs herself. Close friends decided it was better for her to return to Port Arthur again. JANIS grabbed all the courage she could find and decided to follow their advice. She tries to act normally, dress nicely and become a normal person. However, this attemption fails and in June '66, she goes back to San Francisco and gets in touch with BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY. The first ever recording was made in 1966 and features the former JEFFERSON AIRPLANE guitarplayer Jorma Kaukonen. This leads to some very good energetic and creative music, but it also brought back the abuse of very powerful drugs.
Finally, the time came to record an album and the music became very important to JANIS. Especially, when she was asked to play at the Monterey Festival in 1967. JANIS looked like being reborn again. After this, she played some great shows in New York and before she knew it, JANIS had become a real star! Her life changed at an incredible speed. JANIS became the 'spotlight kid' of the band. In 1968 they released "Cheap Thrills". Although, it took them months to realize it, the producers felt it could have been done so much better. Right after the release, JANIS quits the band. In '69, she returns with her KOZMIC BLUES BAND, but the drug abuse also returns. She released "Kozmic Blues" (original title: "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama"), but it just didn't sound as it did in the 'old days'. April 1970 was the date, she introduces her third and final band to the public: THE FULL TILT BOOGIE BAND. JANIS was ready to take on the world! Changing from drugs back to alcohol, she sure was at her best at that time. Her private circumstances became better and better. Also her album "Pearl" (which was her nickname) was received very well all over the world. It was almost on the eve of her proposed marriage, the fatal overdose made an end to her wild career.
JANIS dies at an hotel, lonely, 27 years young, being the best blues-soul singer the world ever had. A woman, that just couldn't understand she would mean a great deal to today's music. Many books have been written about her life. None however, can describe the real life and feelings of this lonely and depressed woman, addicted to alcohol and drugs. Maybe the best release in this series is the book that her sister Laura wrote in '92, called "Love, Janis". It contains letters JANIS wrote and some very interesting details about her life. But the worshipping goes beyond writing a book.
The movie "The Rose", featuring BETTE MIDLER, tells us the story of JANIS's life, her ups and downs, her success and her use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. But her records still tell her life story the best of it all. Mainly because JANIS was the leading lady herself. As a good example I would like to mention "Definitive Collection" (COLUMBIA RECORDS '95) or "In Concert"(CBS RECORDS '72). In her legendary songs like "Bye Bye Baby", "Move Over", "Down On Me", "Kozmic Blues", "Me And Bobby McGhee", "Try", "Piece Of My Heart" and "Mercedes Benz", you'll hear the story of the sixties. The ultimate beginning of women in rock. Although she never got really married actually, she can easily been seen as the mother of famous children, like SASS JORDAN, JAN JAMES, BETTE MIDLER, PAT MEARS, Tineke Schoenmakers (BARRELHOUSE) and An de Bruin (THE CREW, DOUBLE BROWN). Ladies, who all have got a little bit of JANIS JOPLIN blood running through their veins. But not only the ladies see JANIS JOPLIN as a big influence. Also the rock bands of today still play tunes of this wild woman. I am thinking about rocking versions of "Piece Of My Heart" (LIONSHEART), "Move Over" (CINDERELLA), "Piece of My Heart" (ROUGH CUTT) to name but a few. What really was inside the mind of JANIS is something we'll probably never know. Fact is that in twenty-seven years, she became a woman we will never forget. Twenty-six years after her death, people still write about, talk about and listen to this woman. And everytime I talk about her, write about her or listen to her albums, she takes another little piece of my heart........
written by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens)
DISCOGRAPHY JANIS JOPLIN:
BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY (Columbia '67)
CHEAP THRILLS (Columbia '68)
I GOT DEM OL' KOZMIC BLUES AGAIN MAMA! (Columbia '69)
PEARL (w/the Full Tilt Boogie Band; Columbia '71)
JOPLIN IN CONCERT (Columbia '72)
JANIS JOPLIN'S GREATEST HITS (Columbia '73)
JANIS (soundtrack)(Columbia '75)
FAREWELL SONG (Columbia '82)
JANIS (3 disc box set; Legacy '93)
18 ESSENTIAL SONGS (Legacy '95)
BOX OF PEARLS, THE JANIS JOPLIN COLLECTION (Sony '99)