When did Janis Joplin make it big?

Janis Joplin

Laut.de biography

Janis Joplin

At that time when shaggy long-haired people are still bathing in the mud and the flowers are still in love, a white black woman draws attention to herself. Their skin color is not black. But her way of singing the blues was extremely unusual for whites until then.

We are talking about Janis Joplin, a sheltered affluent child from a petty bourgeois small town in the state of the death penalty, the gun fetishists and the bellicose president - the state of Texas. Joplin's decision to break with her former life and join the new subculture of the hippies is therefore hardly incomprehensible.

In high school, where she succumbs to literary subjects, the inferiority complex-stricken teenager realizes her passion and talent for the blues. At first she copied the singing style of Bessie Smith, Odetta and Leadbelly. Already at this time drugs, by which marijuana, alcohol and above all speed are meant, exerted an extraordinary fascination on her.

Whereupon she returns home for a year, battered by drug excesses, and there tries to get her life under control. But when an old friend offers her a job as a singer in San Francisco, she decides to do so and makes a momentous decision.

With the band Big Brother And The Holding Company, she began touring in the Bay Area and other places in California. A little later, the band signed a record deal with Mainstream Records, with which the group released an album and two singles.

But the real breakthrough came in the summer of love, 1967, at the Monterey International Pop Festival, at which, apart from the world, Albert Grossman also became aware of the Big Brothers' psychodelic rock. Grossman, one of the most successful and well-known entertainment managers, took on the band and got them a new contract with Columbia Records, where in 1968 the popular album "Cheap Thrills" was released.

But the success and the associated lower financial worries take their toll, because the band members are now converting their now high salaries into expensive hard drugs and at Christmas 1968 are no longer able to bring the required performance at concerts. In addition, the differences within the band are growing, so that's when they give their last concert.

In September 1969, Joplin and a newly founded group released the blues-oriented album "I Got Dem Ol Kozmic Blues Again, Mama", which met with divided opinions in the USA, but was celebrated as grandiose in Europe. At the same time, the young woman is getting more and more entangled in the lifestyle of sex, drugs & rock'n'roll, in which she has no adjustment problems from the start.

Her insatiable desire for drugs can at best be surpassed by the desire for sex, where she quickly notices that sex with men does not cover the full spectrum, whereupon her own gender helps her out with some affairs. The way of life of the tough, cursing, drinking, screwing and heroin-oppressive slut gives Janis apparent support in her restless search for recognition. Since in the 1960s women in the limelight were much more exposed to criticism than men, and female role models were hardly respected as public figures, the singer became an icon of feminism, despite or perhaps because of her escapades.

Eventually Joplin realizes that something is wrong with her life and stops pumping herself with drugs. She then formed a third band called the Full Tilt Boogie Band, which produced more professional and popular music. With the unique style of her white blues, the 27-year-old now believes she has finally found her fulfillment and - according to tradition - is never happier. In this high phase, in which everything seems to be going well, she enters into a steady relationship and leads an almost regular life.

But during the recordings for the next album "Pearl" she resorts to heroin again and cannot get the vein full enough. On October 4, 1970, she accidentally gave herself the golden shot at a Los Angeles motel. According to Eric Burdon, the queen of rock music doesn't die of a heroin overdose, but of a Janis overdose. The fourth album, which will be released after her death, contains the songs "Me And Bobby McGee" and "Mercedes Benz". It immediately became a box-office hit and made the singer a legend.

With Jimi Hendrix, who died a month before her, and Jim Morrison, who was found dead in July 1971, Janis Joplin has remained an icon of the hippie era.