Biography Of Janis Joplin

A complete biography of Janis Joplin, from her birth in Texas to her death in California and the legend in between.

Janis Joplin was born in the oil refinery town of Port Arthur, Texas on January 19, 1943 as the eldest child in a working class family. Janis was interested in art and

poetry from a young age and many people considered her

eccentric. By the age of fourteen Janis had become a social

outcast so she withdrew into her own world. She was

consumed with passion for music and at the age of eighteen

she began perform at country and western bars in Houston and


Janis briefly attended Lamar State College of

Technology and University of Texas at Austin after high

school, but her love for music drew her to California. On

the West Coast in 1963, Janis witnessed the hippie movement

and found herself drawn in. Janis sang at blues clubs and

coffeehouses in San Francisco and Venice Beach and openly

indulged in drugs and alcohol. On more than one occasion,

Janis performed on stage holding a bottle of Southern

Comfort in her hand.

Joplin lived in California for two years, performing

often. She briefly moved back to Port Arthur in 1965.

Although she tried to readapt to the small town atmosphere,

she quickly realized that there was no hope and returned to

San Francisco within the year. Chet Holms, a publicist and

a friend of Janis, suggested that she join an existing rock

band called Big Brother and the Holding Company. She took

his advice and joined on as the lead singer and they were a

hit. The soulful bluesy voice that listeners heard had

never come from a small white girl before, and she was

instantly compared to such legendary blues singers as Bessie

Smith and Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter.

Big Brother and the Holding Company performed at the

Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, where Janis awed audiences

with her hearty performance of "Ball and Chain," originally

recorded by Big Mama Thornton. The bands performance earned

them an offered contract with an independent label,

Mainstream Records. Big Brother released its' self-titled

debut album in 1968.

Later that year, Big Brother and the Holding Company

released their sophomore album "Cheap Thrills" under

Columbia Records. The album was immediately successful with

such hits as "Piece of My Heart," "Ball and Chain," and

"Turtle Blues," and stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard charts

for eight weeks. "Cheap Thrills" went on to sell a million

copies in only the next month.

In late 1968, Janis left Big Brother to pursue a solo career. It was during this period that she gave another heart wrenching performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel, New York. In 1969 Janis formed another back up group, the Kosmic Blues Band, and released "I Got Dem Ol' Kosmic Blues Again Mama!" with the hit single "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)". After the release of her third album she formed the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Sadly, Janis died, before her album with her new band was released, in the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood, California in 1970 of an accidental heroin overdose. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the California coast.

Janis and the Full Tilt Boogie Band were working on

"Pearl" at the time of her death and the album was released

posthumously in 1971. Pearl is noticed for it's lack of

intensity that was usually encompassed in Janis' music, as

was obvious in songs like "Mercedes Benz" and "Me and Bobby


Janis Joplin was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame in 1995. Her songs became the passion and emotion of the hippie generation and her voice could never be duplicated. She is still considered the greatest white female blues singer of all time.

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