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January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970
Born Janis Lyn Joplin in Port Arthur, Texas a small Southern petroleum industry town that was extremely racially segrated in the 60's. Despite this she crossed over to indulging in Black music.
Along with fellow beatnik friends she pursued an interest in the arts: literature and her speciality, music. She gravitated to folk and jazz, but was smitten with the blues. Soon she discovered her innate talent for belting out the blues and began copying the likes of Bessie Smith, Odetta and Leadbelly. At first, she played venues who would accept her type of music like coffee houses. Later she entertained at the beatnik haunts of Venice, North Beach and the Village in New York City. Soon she began experimenting with speed and alcohol.
Although she excelled at the University of Texas, she was not content with college and longed for the stage and her music. The only drawback to her profession was the drugs that came with the territory. Chet Helms, a friend she knew in Austin, invited her to come out to San Francisco to audition with an up and coming local group. As soon as she arrived in California she fell in love with the community that was populated with flower children. In 1966, she was offered a position in a relatively obscure group called "Big Brother and the Holding Company."
Together with Big Brother they toured the Bay area as well as the entire California coast. The encountered an ever increasing enthusiasm for their new music which was later dubbed "psychedelic rock."
Soon they signed with Mainstream Records, unfortunately they were only a small outfit that did little to promote the band. Despite all this Janis and her band played to a large concert in the summer of 1967: the "Summer of Love" which was held at the Monterey International Pop Festival. After that performance the world took note of Janis' huge talent and her popularity grew
Seeing a potential for success Albert Grossman took over their management. With him he got them a 3 year contract with Columbia Records. August , 1968 they released their first gold album, "Cheap Thrills." They were now experiencing the sweet smell of success by playing to huge audiences for big money. With that big money came the use of high priced drugs. Drugs not only affected their health but it soon interfered with their performance and relationships within the band. By Christmas 1968, Big Brother played their last gig together.
Janis was not entirely blind to her drug problems and quit doing drugs. She formed a new band and continued making new music. Finally she had found her niche, "white blues." Janis had just finish finished taping her last album "Pearl" in Los Angeles. She and band member Ken Pearson went to her favorite hangout, Barney's Beanery. The two began drinking screwdrivers and soon the thought to do "just one shot of heroin." Shortly after midnight she drove back to where she was staying, the Landmark Hotel. She entered her room and shot up a fix of heroin. After that she returned to the lobby to get change for the cigarette machine. While getting change she stopped to chat with the hotel clerk, who commented on how "normal" she looked. As soon as she returned to her room she collapsed and landed on the floor beside her bed. On the way down she hit her nose on the bed table and broke it. She was discovered against the night table, wearing only her baby doll pajamas with a cigarette still in her hand.
Band member, John Cook became alarmed after trying to call her on the telephone several times. He decided to go to her hotel to see if she was alright. He banged on her door repeatedly and recieved no response. John broke down the door and discover a dead Janis.
On October 10th, Janis was cremated at Westwood Memorial Park. It was her request to have her ashes scattered over Stinson Beach, Marin County.
This is the original article about her death however it smudged a little as I was making the copy.
I will have to get a better copy soon, bear with me. Sorry....
It was also her wish to have all her friends party in her behalf. She put aside $1500 for the fete and The Grateful Dead entertained the 200 of her friends that showed up. There were invitations sent out that read: "Drinks on Pearl.... At the Lion's Share, 60 Red Hill Rd, San Anselmo...Monday, October 26th, 8:00 pm"
Read more about Janis after the fact: