Although Janis has been gone for over 40 years, her music is still popular to this day. Here’s a little bit about this gone, but not forgotten, blues singer who died at the age of 27.
Janis was born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas. It has been said that she was a social outcast and found solace in her music. She was drawn to blues and sang in the coffeehouse circuit in Texas and San Francisco, before joining the band, Big Brother – guitarists James Gurley and Sam Andrew, bassist Peter Albin and drummer David Getz.
Janis left Big Brother in December 1968, taking guitarist Sam Andrew with her and debuted in Memphis, Tennessee in 1969. Her first solo album, I’ve Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, was recorded and she toured extensively with her Kozmic Blues Band, even appearing at Woodstock in August, 1969. They also appeared in Madison Square Garden in December 1969.
By mid-1970, however, Janis dissolved the Kozmic Blues Band and formed an awesome new one, Full-Tilt Boogie. The band gelled over the next several months of touring and entered the studio to record what would turn out to be her swan song. Janis had often sought refuge in drugs and alcohol, and she was found dead of a heroin overdose in a Hollywood hotel room on October 4, 1970 at the age of 27. After her death, the album Pearl was released which was her nickname. It was comprised of nine finished tracks and one instrumental to which she was supposed to have added vocals on the day she died. It was prophetically titled “Buried Alive in the Blues.”
Pearl became Joplin’s biggest seller, holding down the #1 position for nine weeks in 1971. The album included “Me and Bobby McGee,“ a song written for her by ex-lover Kris Kristofferson. It was the portrait of a countercultural love affair, sung by Joplin as an affectionate, road-weary country blues. “Me and Bobby McGee” perfectly captured the bohemian spirit of the times. Other songs recorded on Pearl were “Move Over,” “Half Moon” and “Get It While You Can”.
In 1979, Bette Midler played the lead in “The Rose”, a thinly disguised biography picture about Janis. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. She may be gone, but she is not forgotten! For more information about Janis or to hear her songs, please go to her website.