The world lost their queen of psychedelic soul, Janis Joplin, who sadly passed away on October 4, 1970. But 46 years later her haunting voice is legendary and uniquely unforgettable, her sound has revolutionized rock and roll, and her image has become an iconic symbol of the magical 60’s. Janis Joplin sang the blues with smoky, scratchy, kitty cat tear your heart out vocals. She may be known for mostly cover versions, but Joplin absolutely made them her very own. She truly felt every note and lyric that she sang, the raw emotion poured from her soul and into the hearts of millions. Janis Joplin sang the blues as genuinely as one could, consumed by an inner loneliness she was never able to escape.
“On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone.” Janis Joplin
A diamond in the rough, Janis Joplin was known to her friends as “Pearl”. She studied art at the University of Texas in Austin, always creatively inclined, but dropping out to follow her musical aspirations. Joplin had always talked about being a big star, performing in small Texas bars before heading to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco, California. The district became synonymous with the whole the movement of the 60’s era, the hippie community, known for its ideals, drugs, and music.
The loud mouthed, hard drinking, ambitious, liberated, good girl gone bad was truly a feminist musical pioneer. She showed that woman can be emotional and sensitive, while still being tough and powerful. On her outer wrist was a tattoo she got in San Francisco, a Florentine bracelet design which symbolized feminine power. Dressed in hippie attire, big glasses, feathered boas, and unkept messy hair, and often armed with a bottle of Southern Comfort- she was certainly no conformist.
“Well, they thought I was completely insane. They didn’t like me, no. (…) You’re supposed to get married when you get out of high school, have a brood of children, and keep your mouth shut… you know. And I didn’t do any of that” Janis Joplin
Her distinctive vocals, eccentric persona, and electric stage presence earned her a spot as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later her solo work with the hand-picked backing bands The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band. Janis became a cosmic force of her own, a real star like she always dreamed. Gaining a mass fan base with her performances at the iconic Monterey Pop and Woodstock music festivals. Though, stars often shine the brightest before their collapse. Janis Joplin had a short but incredibly impactful career, like a supernova radiating energy and outshining an entire galaxy in a shockwave before fading from view. Her life ended tragically at the age of 27 from a drug overdose, where she was found almost a day later alone in her hotel room. But even though she is dancing in stardust, her memory burns brightly through the fiery music she crafted and a flame that forever left its mark on rock and roll. Today Janis Joplin still remains as one of the top-selling musicians, with over 15 million albums sold.
– Devon Alexis