Janis Joplin: Dead 40 Years Today
Janis Joplin died 40 years ago today, on October 4, 1970. Were she alive, the iconic blues singer extraordinaire would be 67 years old. This article remembers and relives some of her great contributions to the world of entertainment.
Port Arthur, Texas' most famous resident, Janis Joplin set the standard for the “blues mama image” for all white female singers to follow: hard-living, hard-loving, and, of course, hard drinking--her love affair with Southern Comfort now legendary. Coming into prominence in the late 60s as lead singer for the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis quickly left her band mates in the proverbial dust following the release of their second album, Cheap Thrills and their monumental appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of ‘67, after which most of the world experienced the shock and awe that was Janis.
Leaving a trail of unqualified stunners like Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and George Gershwin’s “Summertime” in her wake, by the time she played the Newport Folk Festival in July of ‘68, it wasn’t unusual for her audiences to be largely comprised of other professional musicians all of whom came to genuflect in her presence. Her raw talent, passion, and insatiable lust to perform became the act to follow--and singers like Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, Cass Elliot from the Mamas and the Papas, and up 'n' comers like Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon made their idolization well-known.
With the release of I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! in 1969, her first solo album after leaving Big Brother, Janis’ fame shot her to instantaneous stardom, making her the most sought-after female performer in the world, drawing attention from aficionados of every music genre--from jazz to classical, blues to contemporary. And after her landmark performance at Woodstock the month before, she was perhaps the most well-known performer on the planet, and the icon for how a Hippie girl should look and behave.
Her final and most highly acclaimed album, Pearl, (a physical persona she took on at the time) a collection of masterpieces made with her new band Full Tilt Boogie, was released four months after her death in February of 1971 (look forward to a re-release).
Whether one is a fan of 60s rock music or not, the impression Janis Joplin left on the music world is unmatched. Today she is equated with the likes of Billy Holliday, Eta James, and even opera singers like Maria Callas, and her unique singing style is the subject of college music classes all across the country. And for most every year since her death, her records have sold more copies than the year before--her Pearl album among the very first to be pressed as a CD. It’s unimaginable what further contributions she may have made to the world of music and entertainment were she still alive.
For Other Articles on This Subject See:
Fashions of the 60s
Pink Floyd's, The Dark Side of the Moon
Songs the Beatles Didn't Write
The Beatles Innovations
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