Backstage with Janis Joplin

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – Saturday August 03, 2019


Janis Joplin–cry baby

Janis Lyn Joplin January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American rock singer and songwriter. She was one of the biggest female rock stars of her era.[1][2][3] After releasing three albums, she died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. A fourth album, Pearl, was released in January 1971, just over three months after her death. It reached number one on the Billboard charts.


Janis Joplin – Me & Bobby McGee

In 1967, Joplin rose to fame during an appearance at Monterey Pop Festival, where she was the lead singer of the then little-known San Francisco psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company.[4][5][6] After releasing two albums with the band, she left Big Brother to continue as a solo artist with her own backing groups, first the Kozmic Blues Band and then the Full Tilt Boogie Band. She appeared at the Woodstock festival and the Festival Express train tour. Five singles by Joplin went into the Billboard Hot 100, including a cover of the song “Me and Bobby McGee”, which reached number 1 in March 1971.[7] Her most popular songs include her cover versions of “Piece of My Heart”, “Cry Baby”, “Down on Me”, “Ball ‘n’ Chain”, and “Summertime”; and her original song “Mercedes Benz”, her final recording.[8][9]


Janis Joplin- Piece of my heart

Joplin, highly respected for her charismatic performing ability, was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Audiences and critics alike referred to her stage presence as “electric”. Rolling Stone ranked Joplin number 46 on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time[10] and number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She remains one of the top-selling musicians in the United States, with Recording Industry Association of America certifications of 15.5 million albums sold in the USA.[11]

Janis Lyn Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on January 19, 1943,[12] to Dorothy Bonita East (1913–1998), a registrar at a business college, and her husband, Seth Ward Joplin (1910–1987), an engineer at Texaco. She had two younger siblings, Michael and Laura. The family belonged to the Church of Christ denomination.[13]

Her parents felt that Janis needed more attention than their other children.[14] As a teenager, Joplin befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by blues artists Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Lead Belly, whom Joplin later credited with influencing her decision to become a singer.[15] She began singing blues and folk music with friends at Thomas Jefferson High School.[16]

Joplin stated that she was ostracised and bullied in high school.[15] As a teen, she became overweight and suffered with acne, leaving her with deep scars that required dermabrasion.[14][17][18] Other kids at high school would routinely taunt her and call her names like “pig”, “freak”, “nigger lover”, or “creep”.[14] She stated, “I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I thought. I didn’t hate niggers.”[19]

Joplin graduated from high school in 1960 and attended Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas, during the summer[22] and later the University of Texas at Austin (UT), though she did not complete her college studies.[25] The campus newspaper, The Daily Texan, ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined “She Dares to Be Different.”[25] The article began, “She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levis to class because they’re more comfortable, and carries her autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song, it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.”[25] While at UT she performed with a folk trio called the Waller Creek Boys and frequently socialized with the staff of the campus humor magazine The Texas Ranger.[26]


“Ego Rock” Janis Joplin Live (Rare Song about Port Arthur)

1962–1965: Early recordings

Joplin cultivated a rebellious manner and styled herself partly after her female blues heroines and partly after the Beat poets. Her first song, “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do”, was recorded on tape in December 1962 at the home of a fellow University of Texas student.[27]

She left Texas in January 1963 (“Just to get away,” she said, “because my head was in a much different place”),[28] hitchhiking with her friend Chet Helms to North Beach, San Francisco. Still in San Francisco in 1964, Joplin and future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen recorded a number of blues standards, which incidentally featured Kaukonen’s wife Margareta using a typewriter in the background. This session included seven tracks: “Typewriter Talk”, “Trouble in Mind”, “Kansas City Blues”, “Hesitation Blues”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, and “Long Black Train Blues”, and was released long after Joplin’s death as the bootleg album The Typewriter Tape.


Janis Joplin – Down and Out (This is Janis Joplin)

In 1963, Joplin was arrested in San Francisco for shoplifting. During the two years that followed, her drug use increased and she acquired a reputation as a “speed freak” and occasional heroin user.[13][16][22] She also used other psychoactive drugs and was a heavy drinker throughout her career; her favorite alcoholic beverage was Southern Comfort.

In May 1965, Joplin’s friends in San Francisco, noticing the detrimental effects on her from regularly injecting methamphetamine (she was described as “skeletal”[16] and “emaciated”[13]), persuaded her to return to Port Arthur. During that month, her friends threw her a bus-fare party so she could return to her parents in Texas.[13] Five years later, Joplin told Rolling Stone magazine writer David Dalton the following about her first stint in San Francisco: “I didn’t have many friends and I didn’t like the ones I had.”[29]

Back in Port Arthur in the spring of 1965, after Joplin’s parents noticed her weight of 88 pounds (40 kg),[23] she changed her lifestyle. She avoided drugs and alcohol, adopted a beehive hairdo, and enrolled as an anthropology major at Lamar University in nearby Beaumont, Texas. During her time at Lamar University, she commuted to Austin to sing solo, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. One of her performances was at a benefit by local musicians for Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb, who was suffering with ill health.

Joplin became engaged to Peter de Blanc in the fall of 1965.[30] She had begun a relationship with him toward the end of her first stint in San Francisco.[30] Now living in New York where he worked with IBM computers,[31][32] he visited her to ask her father for her hand in marriage.[33] Joplin and her mother began planning the wedding.[23][33] De Blanc, who traveled frequently,[30] ended the engagement soon afterward.[23][30]

In 1965 and 1966, Joplin commuted from her family’s Port Arthur home to Beaumont, Texas, where she had regular sessions with a psychiatric social worker named Bernard Giarritano[23] at a counseling agency that was funded by the United Fund, which after her death changed its name to the United Way.[13] Interviewed by biographer Myra Friedman after his client’s death, Giarritano said Joplin had been baffled by how she could pursue a professional career as a singer without relapsing into drugs, and her drug-related memories from immediately prior to returning to Port Arthur continued to frighten her.[23] Joplin sometimes brought an acoustic guitar with her to her sessions with Giarritano, and people in other offices within the building could hear her singing.[13]

Giarritano tried to reassure her that she did not have to use narcotics in order to succeed in the music business.[23] She also said that if she were to avoid singing professionally, she would have to become a keypunch operator (as she had done a few years earlier) or a secretary, and then a wife and mother, and she would have to become very similar to all the other women in Port Arthur.[23]

Approximately a year before Joplin joined Big Brother and the Holding Company, she recorded seven studio tracks with her acoustic guitar. Among the songs she recorded were her original composition for the song “Turtle Blues” and an alternate version of “Cod’ine” by Buffy Sainte-Marie. These tracks were later issued as a new album in 1995, entitled This is Janis Joplin 1965 by James Gurley.

1966–1969: Various bands

In 1966, Joplin’s bluesy vocal style attracted the attention of the San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, which had gained some renown among the nascent hippie community in Haight-Ashbury.[34] She was recruited to join the group by Chet Helms, a promoter who had known her in Texas and who at the time was managing Big Brother. Helms sent his friend Travis Rivers to find her in Austin, Texas, where she had been performing with her acoustic guitar, and to accompany her to San Francisco.

Aware of her previous nightmare with drug addiction in San Francisco, Rivers insisted that she inform her parents face-to-face of her plans, and he drove her from Austin to Port Arthur (he waited in his car while she talked with her startled parents) before they began their long drive to San Francisco. Joplin joined Big Brother on June 4, 1966.[35] Her first public performance with them was at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

In June, Joplin was photographed at an outdoor concert in San Francisco that celebrated the summer solstice. The image, which was later published in two books by David Dalton, shows her before she relapsed into drugs. Due to persistent persuading by keyboardist and close friend Stephen Ryder, Joplin avoided drugs for several weeks, enjoining bandmate Dave Getz to promise that using needles would not be allowed in their rehearsal space, her apartment, or in the homes of her bandmates whom she visited.[23] When a visitor injected drugs in front of Joplin and Getz, Joplin angrily reminded Getz that he had broken his promise.[23]

A San Francisco concert from that summer (1966) was recorded and released in the 1984 album Cheaper Thrills. In July, all five bandmates and guitarist James Gurley’s wife Nancy moved to a house in Lagunitas, California, where they lived communally. They often partied with the Grateful Dead, who lived less than two miles away. She had a short relationship and longer friendship with founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan.[36]

The band went to Chicago for a four-week engagement in August 1966, then found themselves stranded after the promoter ran out of money when their concerts did not attract the expected audience levels, and he was unable to pay them.[37] In the circumstances the band signed to Bob Shad’s record label Mainstream Records; recordings for the label took place in Chicago in September, but these were not satisfactory, and the band returned to San Francisco, continuing to perform live, including at the Love Pageant Rally.[38][39] The band recorded two tracks, “Blindman” and “All Is Loneliness”, in Los Angeles, and these were released by Mainstream as a single which did not sell well.[40] After playing at a “happening” in Stanford in early December 1966, the band travelled back to Los Angeles to record ten tracks between December 12 and 14, 1966, produced by Bob Shad, which appeared on the band’s debut album in August 1967.[40]

One of Joplin’s earliest major performances in 1967 was at the Mantra-Rock Dance, a musical event held on January 29 at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple. Janis Joplin and Big Brother performed there along with the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, Allen Ginsberg, Moby Grape, and Grateful Dead, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple.[42][43][44] In early 1967, Joplin met Country Joe McDonald of the group Country Joe and the Fish. The pair lived together as a couple for a few months.[13][29] Joplin and Big Brother began playing clubs in San Francisco, at the Fillmore West, Winterland and the Avalon Ballroom. They also played at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as in Seattle, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia, the Psychedelic Supermarket in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Golden Bear Club in Huntington Beach, California.[29]

In late 1966, Big Brother switched managers from Chet Helms to Julius Karpen.[16]

The band’s debut studio album, Big Brother & the Holding Company, was released by Mainstream Records in August 1967, shortly after the group’s breakthrough appearance in June at the Monterey Pop Festival.[28] Two tracks, “Coo Coo” and “The Last Time”, were released separately as singles, while the tracks from the previous single, “Blindman” and “All Is Loneliness”, were added to the remaining eight tracks.[40] When Columbia Records took over the band’s contract and re-released the album, they included “Coo Coo” and “The Last Time”, and put “featuring Janis Joplin” on the cover. The debut album spawned four minor hits with the singles “Down on Me”, a traditional song arranged by Joplin, “Bye Bye Baby”, “Call On Me” and “Coo Coo”, on all of which Joplin sang lead vocals.


bye, bye, baby – Janis Joplin

Two songs from the second of Big Brother’s two sets at Monterey, which they played on Sunday, were filmed (The group’s first set, which was on Saturday, was not filmed at all though it was audio-recorded. Some sources, including a Joplin biography by Ellis Amburn, claim that she was dressed in thrift store hippie clothes or second-hand Victorian clothes during the band’s Saturday set,[16] but still photographs do not appear to have survived). Digitized color film of two songs in the Sunday set, “Combination of the Two” and a version of Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain”, appear in the DVD box set of D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary Monterey Pop released by The Criterion Collection. She is seen wearing an expensive gold tunic dress with matching pants.[45] They were created for her by San Francisco clothing designer Colin Rose.[45]


Janis Joplin – Ball & Chain – Monterey Pop – 1967

Documentary filmmaker Pennebaker inserted two cutaway shots of Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas seated in the audience during Joplin’s performance of “Ball and Chain”, one in the middle of the song as her eyes, covered by sunglasses, are fixed on Joplin, and also a shot during the applause as she silently mouths “Oh, wow!” and looks at the person seated next to her. Elliot and the audience are seen in sunlight, but Sunday’s Big Brother performance was filmed in the evening.[46][47] An explanation has come from Big Brother’s road manager John Byrne Cooke, who remembers that Pennebaker discreetly filmed the audience (including Elliot) during Big Brother’s Saturday performance when he was not allowed to point a camera at the band.[48]

The prohibition of Pennebaker from filming on Saturday afternoon came from Big Brother’s manager Julius Karpen.[48] The band had a bitter argument with Karpen and overruled him as they prepared for their second set that the festival organizers had added on the spur of the moment.[48] Backstage at the festival, the band became acquainted with New York-based talent manager Albert Grossman, but did not sign with him until several months later, firing Karpen at that time.[48]

Only “Ball and Chain” was included in the Monterey Pop film that was released to cinemas throughout the United States in 1969 and shown on television in the 1970s. Those who did not attend the Monterey Pop Festival saw the band’s performance of “Combination of the Two” for the first time in 2002 when The Criterion Collection released the box set.

For the remainder of 1967, even after Big Brother signed with Albert Grossman, they performed mainly in California. On February 16, 1968,[49] the group began its first East Coast tour in Philadelphia, and the following day gave their first performance in New York City at the Anderson Theater.[13][16] On April 7, 1968, the last day of their East Coast tour, Joplin and Big Brother performed with Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop at the “Wake for Martin Luther King, Jr.” concert in New York.

Live at Winterland ’68, recorded at the Winterland Ballroom on April 12 and 13, 1968, features Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company at the height of their mutual career working through a selection of tracks from their albums. A recording became available to the public for the first time in 1998 when Sony Music Entertainment released the compact disc. One month after the Winterland concert, Owsley Stanley recorded them at the Carousel Ballroom, released in 2012 as Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968.

On July 31, 1968, Joplin made her first nationwide television appearance when the band performed on This Morning, an ABC daytime 90-minute variety show hosted by Dick Cavett. Shortly thereafter, network employees wiped the videotape, though the audio survives. (In 1969 and 1970, Joplin made three appearances on Cavett’s prime-time program. Video was preserved and excerpts have been included in most documentaries about Joplin. Audio of her 1968 appearance has not been used since then.)

Sometime in 1968, the band’s billing was changed to “Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company,”[29] and the media coverage given to Joplin generated resentment within the band.[29] The other members of Big Brother thought that Joplin was on a “star trip”, while others were telling Joplin that Big Brother was a terrible band and that she ought to dump them.[29] Time magazine called Joplin “probably the most powerful singer to emerge from the white rock movement”, and Richard Goldstein wrote for the May 1968 issue of Vogue magazine that Joplin was “the most staggering leading woman in rock … she slinks like tar, scowls like war … clutching the knees of a final stanza, begging it not to leave … Janis Joplin can sing the chic off any listener.”[15]

For her first major studio recording, Joplin played a major role in the arrangement and production of the songs that would comprise Big Brother and the Holding Company’s second album, Cheap Thrills. During the recording sessions, produced by John Simon, Joplin was said to be the first person to enter the studio and the last person to leave. Footage of Joplin and the band in the studio shows Joplin in great form and taking charge during the recording for “Summertime”. The album featured a cover design by counterculture cartoonist Robert Crumb.


Janis Joplin – Summertime

Although Cheap Thrills sounded as if it consisted of concert recordings, like on “Combination of the Two” and “I Need a Man to Love”, only “Ball and Chain” was actually recorded in front of a paying audience; the rest of the tracks were studio recordings.[13] The album had a raw quality, including the sound of a drinking glass breaking and the broken shards being swept away during the song “Turtle Blues”. Cheap Thrills produced very popular hits with “Piece of My Heart” and “Summertime”. Together with the premiere of the documentary film Monterey Pop at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on December 26, 1968,[50] the album launched Joplin as a star.[51] Cheap Thrills reached number one on the Billboard 200 album chart eight weeks after its release, remaining for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks.[51] The album was certified gold at release and sold over a million copies in the first month of its release.[23][29] The lead single from the album, “Piece of My Heart”, reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1968.[52]


Janis Joplin – Maybe

The band made another East Coast tour during July–August 1968, performing at the Columbia Records convention in Puerto Rico and the Newport Folk Festival. After returning to San Francisco for two hometown shows at the Palace of Fine Arts Festival on August 31 and September 1, Joplin announced that she would be leaving Big Brother. On September 14, 1968, culminating a three-night engagement together at Fillmore West, fans thronged to a concert that Bill Graham publicized as the last official concert of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The opening acts on this night were Chicago (then still called Chicago Transit Authority) and Santana.

Despite Graham’s announcement that the Fillmore West gig was Big Brother’s last concert with Joplin, the band—with Joplin still as lead vocalist—toured the U.S. that fall. Reflecting Joplin’s crossover appeal, two October 1968 performances at a roller rink in Alexandria, Virginia, were reviewed by John Segraves of the conservative Washington Evening Star at a time when the Washington metropolitan area’s hard rock scene was in its infancy.[53] An opera buff at the time,[54] he wrote, “Miss Joplin, in her early 20s, has been for the last year or two the vocalist with Big Brother and the Holding Company, a rock quintet of superior electric expertise. Shortly she will be merely Janis Joplin, a vocalist singing folk rock on her first album as a single. Whatever she does and whatever she sings she’ll do it well because her vocal talents are boundless. This is the way she came across in a huge, high-ceilinged roller skating rink without any acoustics but, thankfully a good enough sound system behind her. In a proper room, I would imagine there would be no adjectives to describe her.”[53]

Later that month (October 1968), Big Brother performed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst[55] and at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.[55] Aside from two 1970 reunions, Joplin’s last performance with Big Brother was at a Chet Helms benefit in San Francisco on December 1, 1968.[13][16]

One of Joplin’s earliest major performances in 1967 was at the Mantra-Rock Dance, a musical event held on January 29 at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple. Janis Joplin and Big Brother performed there along with the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, Allen Ginsberg, Moby Grape, and Grateful Dead, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple.[42][43][44] In early 1967, Joplin met Country Joe McDonald of the group Country Joe and the Fish. The pair lived together as a couple for a few months.[13][29] Joplin and Big Brother began playing clubs in San Francisco, at the Fillmore West, Winterland and the Avalon Ballroom. They also played at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as in Seattle, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia, the Psychedelic Supermarket in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Golden Bear Club in Huntington Beach, California.[29]

In late 1966, Big Brother switched managers from Chet Helms to Julius Karpen.[16]

The band’s debut studio album, Big Brother & the Holding Company, was released by Mainstream Records in August 1967, shortly after the group’s breakthrough appearance in June at the Monterey Pop Festival.[28] Two tracks, “Coo Coo” and “The Last Time”, were released separately as singles, while the tracks from the previous single, “Blindman” and “All Is Loneliness”, were added to the remaining eight tracks.[40] When Columbia Records took over the band’s contract and re-released the album, they included “Coo Coo” and “The Last Time”, and put “featuring Janis Joplin” on the cover. The debut album spawned four minor hits with the singles “Down on Me”, a traditional song arranged by Joplin, “Bye Bye Baby”, “Call On Me” and “Coo Coo”, on all of which Joplin sang lead vocals.

Two songs from the second of Big Brother’s two sets at Monterey, which they played on Sunday, were filmed (The group’s first set, which was on Saturday, was not filmed at all though it was audio-recorded. Some sources, including a Joplin biography by Ellis Amburn, claim that she was dressed in thrift store hippie clothes or second-hand Victorian clothes during the band’s Saturday set,[16] but still photographs do not appear to have survived). Digitized color film of two songs in the Sunday set, “Combination of the Two” and a version of Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain”, appear in the DVD box set of D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary Monterey Pop released by The Criterion Collection. She is seen wearing an expensive gold tunic dress with matching pants.[45] They were created for her by San Francisco clothing designer Colin Rose.[45]

Documentary filmmaker Pennebaker inserted two cutaway shots of Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas seated in the audience during Joplin’s performance of “Ball and Chain”, one in the middle of the song as her eyes, covered by sunglasses, are fixed on Joplin, and also a shot during the applause as she silently mouths “Oh, wow!” and looks at the person seated next to her. Elliot and the audience are seen in sunlight, but Sunday’s Big Brother performance was filmed in the evening.[46][47] An explanation has come from Big Brother’s road manager John Byrne Cooke, who remembers that Pennebaker discreetly filmed the audience (including Elliot) during Big Brother’s Saturday performance when he was not allowed to point a camera at the band.[48]

The prohibition of Pennebaker from filming on Saturday afternoon came from Big Brother’s manager Julius Karpen.[48] The band had a bitter argument with Karpen and overruled him as they prepared for their second set that the festival organizers had added on the spur of the moment.[48] Backstage at the festival, the band became acquainted with New York-based talent manager Albert Grossman, but did not sign with him until several months later, firing Karpen at that time.[48]

Only “Ball and Chain” was included in the Monterey Pop film that was released to cinemas throughout the United States in 1969 and shown on television in the 1970s. Those who did not attend the Monterey Pop Festival saw the band’s performance of “Combination of the Two” for the first time in 2002 when The Criterion Collection released the box set.

For the remainder of 1967, even after Big Brother signed with Albert Grossman, they performed mainly in California. On February 16, 1968,[49] the group began its first East Coast tour in Philadelphia, and the following day gave their first performance in New York City at the Anderson Theater.[13][16] On April 7, 1968, the last day of their East Coast tour, Joplin and Big Brother performed with Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop at the “Wake for Martin Luther King, Jr.” concert in New York.

Live at Winterland ’68, recorded at the Winterland Ballroom on April 12 and 13, 1968, features Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company at the height of their mutual career working through a selection of tracks from their albums. A recording became available to the public for the first time in 1998 when Sony Music Entertainment released the compact disc. One month after the Winterland concert, Owsley Stanley recorded them at the Carousel Ballroom, released in 2012 as Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968.

On July 31, 1968, Joplin made her first nationwide television appearance when the band performed on This Morning, an ABC daytime 90-minute variety show hosted by Dick Cavett. Shortly thereafter, network employees wiped the videotape, though the audio survives. (In 1969 and 1970, Joplin made three appearances on Cavett’s prime-time program. Video was preserved and excerpts have been included in most documentaries about Joplin. Audio of her 1968 appearance has not been used since then.)

Sometime in 1968, the band’s billing was changed to “Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company,”[29] and the media coverage given to Joplin generated resentment within the band.[29] The other members of Big Brother thought that Joplin was on a “star trip”, while others were telling Joplin that Big Brother was a terrible band and that she ought to dump them.[29] Time magazine called Joplin “probably the most powerful singer to emerge from the white rock movement”, and Richard Goldstein wrote for the May 1968 issue of Vogue magazine that Joplin was “the most staggering leading woman in rock … she slinks like tar, scowls like war … clutching the knees of a final stanza, begging it not to leave … Janis Joplin can sing the chic off any listener.”[15]

For her first major studio recording, Joplin played a major role in the arrangement and production of the songs that would comprise Big Brother and the Holding Company’s second album, Cheap Thrills. During the recording sessions, produced by John Simon, Joplin was said to be the first person to enter the studio and the last person to leave. Footage of Joplin and the band in the studio shows Joplin in great form and taking charge during the recording for “Summertime”. The album featured a cover design by counterculture cartoonist Robert Crumb.

Although Cheap Thrills sounded as if it consisted of concert recordings, like on “Combination of the Two” and “I Need a Man to Love”, only “Ball and Chain” was actually recorded in front of a paying audience; the rest of the tracks were studio recordings.[13] The album had a raw quality, including the sound of a drinking glass breaking and the broken shards being swept away during the song “Turtle Blues”. Cheap Thrills produced very popular hits with “Piece of My Heart” and “Summertime”. Together with the premiere of the documentary film Monterey Pop at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on December 26, 1968,[50] the album launched Joplin as a star.[51] Cheap Thrills reached number one on the Billboard 200 album chart eight weeks after its release, remaining for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks.[51] The album was certified gold at release and sold over a million copies in the first month of its release.[23][29] The lead single from the album, “Piece of My Heart”, reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1968.[52]

The band made another East Coast tour during July–August 1968, performing at the Columbia Records convention in Puerto Rico and the Newport Folk Festival. After returning to San Francisco for two hometown shows at the Palace of Fine Arts Festival on August 31 and September 1, Joplin announced that she would be leaving Big Brother. On September 14, 1968, culminating a three-night engagement together at Fillmore West, fans thronged to a concert that Bill Graham publicized as the last official concert of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The opening acts on this night were Chicago (then still called Chicago Transit Authority) and Santana.

Despite Graham’s announcement that the Fillmore West gig was Big Brother’s last concert with Joplin, the band—with Joplin still as lead vocalist—toured the U.S. that fall. Reflecting Joplin’s crossover appeal, two October 1968 performances at a roller rink in Alexandria, Virginia, were reviewed by John Segraves of the conservative Washington Evening Star at a time when the Washington metropolitan area’s hard rock scene was in its infancy.[53] An opera buff at the time,[54] he wrote, “Miss Joplin, in her early 20s, has been for the last year or two the vocalist with Big Brother and the Holding Company, a rock quintet of superior electric expertise. Shortly she will be merely Janis Joplin, a vocalist singing folk rock on her first album as a single. Whatever she does and whatever she sings she’ll do it well because her vocal talents are boundless. This is the way she came across in a huge, high-ceilinged roller skating rink without any acoustics but, thankfully a good enough sound system behind her. In a proper room, I would imagine there would be no adjectives to describe her.”[53]

Later that month (October 1968), Big Brother performed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst[55] and at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.[55] Aside from two 1970 reunions, Joplin’s last performance with Big Brother was at a Chet Helms benefit in San Francisco on December 1, 1968.[13][16]

Death

On Sunday afternoon, October 4, 1970, producer Paul Rothchild became concerned when Joplin failed to show up at Sunset Sound Recorders for a recording session in which she was scheduled to provide the vocal track for the already-existing instrumental track of the song “Buried Alive in the Blues.” In the evening, Full Tilt Boogie’s road manager, John Cooke, drove to the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood where Joplin was staying. He saw Joplin’s psychedelically painted Porsche 356 C Cabriolet in the parking lot, and upon entering Joplin’s room (#105), he found her dead on the floor beside her bed. The official cause of death was a heroin overdose, possibly compounded by alcohol.[23][75] Cooke believes Joplin had been given heroin that was much more potent than normal, as several of her dealer’s other customers also overdosed that week.[76] Her death was ruled as accidental.[77]

Peggy Caserta and Seth Morgan had both failed to meet Joplin the Friday immediately prior to her death, October 2, and Joplin had been expecting both of them to keep her company that night.[22] According to Caserta, Joplin was saddened that neither of her friends visited her at the Landmark as they had promised.[16][22] During the 24 hours Joplin lived after this disappointment, Caserta did not phone her to explain why she had failed to show up.[22] Caserta admitted to waiting until late Saturday night to dial the Landmark switchboard, only to learn that Joplin had instructed the desk clerk not to accept any incoming phone calls for her after midnight.[22] Morgan did speak to Joplin via telephone within 24 hours of her death, but it is not known whether he admitted to her that he had broken his promise.[16]

Joplin was cremated at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles, California, and her ashes were scattered from a plane into the Pacific Ocean.[78][79]


Janis Joplin-Mercedes Benz(original)

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