Queen of psychedelic soul Janis Joplin has a legendary voice that is hauntingly unforgettable. Her sound has revolutionized rock and roll, and her image has become an iconic symbol of the magical ’60s. Janis Joplin sang the blues with smoky, scratchy, deep and emotional tear your heart out vocals scattered with animalistic howls that captivate her audiences. She may be known for mostly cover versions, but Joplin absolutely made them her very own.

“I can’t talk about my singing. I’m inside it. How can you describe something you’re inside of?” Janis Joplin

Written by Bert Berns the song “Piece of My Heart” was originally recorded by gospel and soul singer Erma Franklin, Aretha’s older sister. Erma allegedly didn’t recognize the song when she heard it on the radio, commenting it was so different from her version. Joplin’s vocals were much more bluesified and arranged differently than Franklin’s R&B version. Janis Joplin sang the blues as genuinely as one could, consumed by an inner loneliness she was never able to escape. Though on stage she looked completely in her element, putting a piece of herself into every note and lyric that she sang, the raw emotion poured from her soul and into the hearts of millions.

“On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone.” Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin with Big Brother And The Holding Company released “Piece of My Heart” on the 1968 album ‘Cheap Thrills’. Joplin’s rendition of “Piece of My Heart” reached no. 12 on the US pop chart and listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Sam Andrew did the song’s instrumentation arrangement and performed three loud and distorted guitar solos which gave “Piece of My Heart” the psychedelic feel. Many musicians like Joss Stone and Sammy Hagar went on to cover the song, but “Piece of My Heart” is synonymous with Joplin’s legacy. Although she passed away 48 years ago, her star power still burns brightly as one of the top-selling musicians with over 15 million albums sold. Joplin’s songs still get airplay today and she is one of the most widely known female artists of her era.

Have another little piece of my heart now, baby!


Devon Ebersold for Keeping the Blues Alive

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