Happy Birthday Janis: Remembering Janis Joplin

Emily Hicks
Staff Writer

On this week in celebrity birthdays, we celebrate what would have been Janis Joplin’s seventy-sixth birthday. Born January nineteenth of 1943 to parents Dorothy and Seth Joplin, Janis was one of the most iconic musicians of the late ‘60s. Her incredibly unique style sparked fame and fortune that no one could have seen coming.

Janis spent her formative years in her hometown of Port Arthur, Texas, just east of Houston. She was the eldest of three siblings, being four years older than sister Laura, and eight years senior of brother Michael. According to her siblings, music was something that the Joplin’s took very seriously as an art form, so her debut as a blues and folk singer was not a surprise to those who knew her well. As well as music, Janis also dabbled in visual arts with painting.

Though short lived, Janis’ musical career took off with a bang. She signed her first record deal in 1966 with the group Big Brother and the Holding Company after moving to San Francisco. She was recruited into the group by manager Chet Helms, who had known her from life in Texas. Her first gig with the group was just a short six days after signing on, which falls in line with the fast paced whirlwind that was Joplin’s career.

Janis continued to rise as a star while she performed with Big Brother and the Holding Company throughout the latter half of ‘66 and on through 1968.  She left the group in the late fall of 1968, with their last performance as a group being in early December of 1968.

After leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company, Joplin went on to have an incredibly successful solo career, as her performances with Big Brother had already made her a big star. She went on to start Kozmic Blues Band, with whom she released one album called “Kozmic Blues.” After departing with the Kozmic Blues Band, she formed her last band, the Full Tilt Boogie Band. The group toured until late summer of 1970, in the months leading up to her tragic demise.

In the early days of October 1970, Joplin was discovered dead in her hotel room by her band’s road manager. It is thought that Janis died alone of a heroin overdose, feeling rejected by her friends who had previously cancelled plans with her. Posthumously, her album “Pearl,” was released and became Joplin’s top selling album. Though unfinished, it remains a popular album in the classic rock genre. The album features the first take of the single ‘Mercedes Benz’, which Joplin recorded as an anti-consumerism track. 

Although her death was untimely, Janis Joplin is remembered fondly: smiling, singing, and living fast and recklessly. She was only twenty-seven at the time of her death, making her an involuntary member of the twenty-seven club, alongside musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse to name a few.

This week, remember Janis Joplin for what she did best by streaming her music on Spotify as well as Apple Music.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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