Janis Jophin Biography, in the late 1960s, singer Janis Joplin became well-known for her resonant, blues-inspired vocals. In 1970, she overdosed on drugs accidentally and died.
Despite having a lifelong passion for music, Janis Joplin’s career didn’t really take off until she joined Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966. Cheap Thrills, their 1968 record, became a great success. Joplin eventually parted company with Big Brother due to tensions between her and the band, though. I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, Joplin’s debut solo record, which showcased her strong, blues-inspired vocals, was released in 1969. Her second project, Pearl (1971), which was released after Joplin’s passing and got mixed reviews, was a big hit. On October 4, 1970, at the age of 27, the singer overdosed accidentally and passed away.
On January 19, 1943, Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. In the late 1960s, Joplin rose to fame and became well-known for her powerful, blues-inspired singing, breaking new ground for women in rock music. She was raised in a small Texas town with ties to the oil business and a skyline filled with refineries and oil tanks. Joplin fought for years to leave this small town, and she worked much harder to get over the painful memories of those years.
As a young girl, Joplin sung in her church choir and shown some promise as a singer, demonstrating an early love of music. Up to the age of six, she was an only child before the birth of her sister, Laura. Michael, her brother, showed up four years later. Prior to the onset of certain puberty’s negative effects around the age of 14, Joplin was a solid student and pretty well-liked. She put on weight and developed pimples.
Joplin started to disobey at Thomas Jefferson High School. She avoided the in-vogue girl’s clothing of the late 1950s, frequently opting for short skirts or men’s shirts and tights. Joplin, who liked to stand out from the crowd, started to get teased and was frequently the topic of rumors at school. Some referred to her as a “pig,” while others accused her of sexual promiscuity.
Joplin eventually formed a circle of male friends who shared her passion for music and the Beat Generation, a movement that promoted individual expression over social conventions and was led by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, among others.
When it came to music, Janis Joplin and her companions preferred the blues and jazz, and they admired performers like Lead Belly. Legendary blues singers Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Odetta, a pioneer of the folk music movement, were further influences on Joplin. The group frequently hung out in the neighborhood’s working-class taverns in Vinton, Louisiana. By the time she was a senior in high school, Joplin had earned a reputation as a tough-talking, brash girl who enjoyed drinking and acting up.
Joplin attended Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas, a nearby city, after graduating from high school. She spent less time studying there and more time socializing and drinking with friends. Joplin dropped out of Lamar after her first semester. Before relocating to Los Angeles in the summer of 1961, she continued her education by enrolling at Port Arthur College, where she completed a few secretarial courses. However, this initial attempt to get free from failed, and Joplin eventually went back to Port Arthur for a while.
Joplin traveled to the University of Texas at Austin in the summer of 1962, where she pursued her interest in art. With the Waller Creek Boys, a musical duo she was associated with, Joplin started performing at folksings—casual musical gatherings where anybody can perform—on campus and at Threadgill’s, a gas station turned bar. Joplin’s ferocious, gutsy singing style astounded a large portion of the audience. She stood out from other white female vocalists of the era (folk icons like Joan Baez and Judy Collins were known for their gentle sound).
Joplin skipped class in January 1963 so that he and friend Chet Helms could explore the new music scene in San Francisco. Though Joplin attempted to find success as a vocalist in the Bay Area, this trip out west, like her first, ended in failure. She performed sometimes, notably on a side stage at the Monterey Folk Festival in 1963, but her career never really took off. After that, Joplin spent some time in New York City with the hopes of having more success launching her career. However, her heavy drinking and drug usage (she had started using speed, or amphetamine, among other drugs) there proved to be disastrous to her goals for a career in music.
Joplin gradually started performing again, and in May 1966, Travis Rivers, a friend, asked Joplin to try out for Big Brother and the Holding Company, a brand-new San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band. Chet Helms, a different longstanding friend of Joplin’s, was in charge of the band at the time. James Gurley, Dave Getz, Peter Albin, and Sam Andrew made up the band Big Brother, which was a part of the developing San Francisco music scene of the late 1960s, which also included the Grateful Dead.
Joplin impressed the band during her audition and was given a spot in the group right away. She barely performed a few songs and accompanied herself on the tambourine in the beginning of her time with Big Brother. But Joplin soon began to play a larger part in the group as Big Brother gained popularity in the Bay Area. The trio received additional praise during their appearance at the now-famous Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, notably for their cover of Big Mama Thornton’s Ball and Chain.
The majority of the praise, however, went to Joplin’s exceptional voice, joplin’s uninhibited sexual approach and raw, gutsy sound fascinated audiences when she was on heroin, amphetamines, and the bourbon she drank straight from the bottle while performing. However, all of this attention led to some conflict between Joplin and her bandmates.