Remembering Pearl – Aussie Vinyl Remembers Janis Joplin
Aussie Vinyl recently visited the US to remember Janis Joplin on the anniversary of her death who was perhaps the premier blues-influenced rock singer of the late Sixties. She was undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest female rock stars of her time and even before her death, her tough exterior only barely covered her vulnerability with alcohol and drugs, which made her reputation legendary.
Sadly, Joplin was one of three Sixties rock stars including Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison to die at the age of 27 at the beginning of the 1970s from drug overdoses.
Born into a middle-class family and was a loner by her early teens, Janis ran away from home at age 17 and began to sing in clubs around Houston and Austin, to finance a trip to California. By 1965, Janis was singing folk and blues in bars and clubs in and around San Francisco and Venice, California; she had dropped out of several colleges and was also drawing unemployment benefits.
She returned to Austin in 1966 to begin singing in a Country and Western band, but within a few months, a friend of her San Francisco manager Chet Helms told her about another group named Big Brother and the Holding Company. They were in need of a singer in San Francisco, so she traveled back to California where she joined the group.
Joplin and Big Brother captivated audiences at the June 1967, 3-day Monterey Pop Festival in California; Albert Grossman who was Bob Dylan’s manager agreed to work with the group, and Joplin was on her way to becoming an incredibly famous and successful performer.
After a reasonably successful first album in 1967 with The Big Brother Band, Columbia Records signed the group, and they released the hit single “Piece of My Heart” in 1968 from the Cheap Thrills album which became a gold Number One LP.
Within the next 12 months, Joplin had overshadowed her backing band, and she left The Big Brother Band, taking only guitarist Sam Andrew with her to form a new group named Kozmic Blues Band.
Joplin toured continually and made television appearances as a guest star on the Dick Cavett, Tom Jones, and Ed Sullivan shows. After the LP “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!” Appeared in 1969, with R&B tracks “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder),” Joplin became progressively involved with alcohol and drugs, eventually surrendering to a heroin addiction.
Her life seemed to be taking a turn for the better when she recorded the album Pearl which she worked with the Full Tilt Boogie Band. She was engaged to be married and was excited with her new album name.
On October 4, 1970, Joplin’s body was discovered in her room at Hollywood’s Landmark Hotel which is now the Highland Gardens Hotel in room 105, face down with fresh puncture marks on her arm. Her death was finally ruled as an accidental heroin overdose.
The album Pearl (Number one, 1971) yielded her number one hit “Me and Bobby McGee” and was released with only one track, “Buried alive in the blues”, which was missing the vocals Joplin didn’t live to complete.