Music / Janis Joplin

Ah but you got away, didn't you babe?
You just turned your back on the crowd
You got away, I never once heard you say
I need you, I don't need you
Leonard Cohen, Chelsea Hotel #2

"Tomorrow never happens. It's all the same fucking day, man!"
Janis Joplin (1943-1970) was a singer and songwriter who achieved stardom in the late 1960s as a vocalist for psychedelic rock outfit Big Brother & The Holding Company. She's famed for her raspy, blues-influenced vocal style, as well as hits like "Piece of My Heart", "Summertime" and "Me & Bobby McGee". She was also one of the performers at Monterey and the original Woodstock, along with her then backup band, the Kozmic Blues Band.

On the morning of October 4, 1970, Janis was found dead in her hotel room in Los Angeles, having succumbed to a heroin overdose, just before she could finish work on her album Pearl. She was just 27 and died only a week after Jimi Hendrix passed away at the same age, also from drug-related causes.

Albums with Big Brother & The Holding Company:

Solo albums:
  • I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969) (with the Kozmic Blues Band)
  • Pearl (1971) (with the Full Tilt Boogie Band) (released posthumously)

"I got dem ol' kozmic tropes again Mama!":

  • A Cappella: "Mercedes Benz". It is an a cappella song written by singer Janis Joplin with the poets Michael Mc Clure and Bob Neuwirth. In the song, the singer asks the Lord to buy her a Mercedes-Benz, a color TV, and a "night on the town".
  • Bi the Way: Janis had many male and female lovers.
  • Broken Bird: This poor woman had a tough life.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: In the original version of "Me and Bobby McGee" Bobby was a woman.
  • Due to the Dead: Early blues singer Bessie Smith was Janis' idol. When Janis discovered that Smith was buried in an unmarked grave, she got together with Smith's old housekeeper and paid for a proper tombstone to be put up.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": She left her friends $2,500 in her will to "have a ball after I'm gone."
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Once hit a drunk Jim Morrison with a beer bottle.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: "Mercedes Benz" as used in a Mercedes-Benz commercial.
  • "I Want" Song: "Mercedes Benz"
  • Kids Are Cruel: She was bullied relentlessly as a child (to the point that she didn't make any friends until high-school, and even then, there were only a few) simply because she didn't hate black people.
    • Didn't help she wasn't a conventional beauty or mind; in college, she was voted "Ugliest Man".
  • Metal Scream: Very often, most famously in "Piece of my Heart."