Saturday, November 1, 2008


I love Janis Joplin. I saw her in concert once and took her picture. It is a prized possession. You can't see her face, but it shows mounds of hair and many braclets as she is wailing into the microphone.
I always wanted to sing like that. Who didn't. After secretly trying for a very long time, it was just easier to mouth the words and pretend it was me singing.
Janis was born January 19,1943 in Port Arthur, Texas a small petroleum industry town.
She died October 4, 1970 in a motel in Los Angeles of a heroin overdose. She was only 27. Man, that pains me. I wonder what she would be like to this day. I am certain the world couldn't handle her. Where would she have gone with her music? Would she have been a mother or gone in to politics?
During the tense days of racial intergration, Janis stood up for the rights of African Americans who were segregated in her home town. She was a rebel and took the non-traditional path with literature, arts and especially music. She gravited to the blues and copied the style of Leadbelly, Odetta, and Jesse Smith. She played the coffee houses in the small towns of Texas. When I was in college, I had a beatnik professor from Texas. We would hang out at his house, discussing all thing relevent and listen to him play blues guitar. He often played with Janis in his town's local coffee house.
Janis eventually landed in Austin where she became a student at the University of Texas. Living on the edge, she experimented with drugs, speed, and alcohol. At that point, she returned home for a year to get herself and life together.
Not happy in college, even though she was a good student, she took up an offer from a friend and auditioned to sing with a group called, "Big Brother and the Holding Company."
They played music in the Bay area and up and down the coast of California. Their unique brand of psychedelic rock made it to the big concert, The Monterey International Pop Festival. When Janis sang Ball and Chain, the whole world took notice.
After leaving "Big Brother and the Holding Company," Janis formed other bands. She consumed more drugs and alcohol than ever. I had a girlfriend who wanted to be just like her and carried around a bottle of Southern Comfort in the apartment while listening to Janis sing the blues. Well, my friend sang the blues one day when she drank too much and had to be escorted to the hospital via the ambulance.
The third band Janis formed was "The Full Tilt Boogie Band" and at that point she was happy with her new style of music. Pure heroin took Janis away in a hotel in Los Angeles one night at the age of 27.
Her albums were gold, platinum and triple platinum. The "Greatest Hits" album still tops the charts in Billboard.

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