Janis Joplin is considered by many to be one of the greatest female rock artists of all time. Janis sang with a distinctive raspy voice and a country blues background that duplicated the sounds of black female blues singers Big Mama Thornton, Odetta, and Bessie Smith.
With her gritty, rough voice blowing out blues tunes, Janis was an instant success and her stage performances were electrifying and full of emotion.
Janis was born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, TX. She grew up in rural Texas listening to the sounds of black blues singers, and in particular, black female blues singers. She often displayed a rebellious nature as a teenager in the small town.
As a teenager she was often belittled by high school classmates because of her looks, attitude, and weight gain. Janis would eventually retreat to her love for music and living what some people called a wild lifestyle." This "wild lifestyle" eventually would be considered her desire to become a liberated woman.
She was doing what women eventually began doing years later, and that was taking control of their lives, being independent, and not confining to what was considered how a woman should look, act, and what constituted beauty.
After completing college and traveling to other parts of the south singing at small gigs, Janis finally moved to San Francisco in June 1966, which was starting to become a beckon for young people seeking freedom, independence, and a laidback lifestyle.
Eventually these young people would become known as hippies congregating toward the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco engaging in fun and free living, new underground music, and of course, drugs.
While in San Francisco she met up with a group called Big Brother and the Holding company and became their lead singer. After playing in small clubs around the San Francisco area the band signed with Mainstream Records in 1967. The band combined blues and psychedelic music and they played loud and hard.
Like a number of other promising artists back in the 1960's trying to break in the music industry and hit it big, Janis and her band made their official debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The group's performance, specifically Janis's, made her an instant success and she rose to stardom.
The band continued to perform together at various locations and clubs but in 1968 disbanded after Janis left the group to seek a solo career. She still performed with a couple of back up bands. Janice made two appearances on the Dick Cavett Show during the last show she mentioned how she looked forward to attending her ten-year reunion, which was perhaps a "how you like me now" attitude because she never felt accepted in Port Arthur.
Janis was a huge success now but when she made the trip back to Port Arthur it was not how she expected things to turn out. It turned out to be a very unhappy experience. Still not feeling accepted in her hometown Janis left Texas for the last time. Janis sung the blues and lived it as well. She lived hard - drinking and taking drugs. On October 4, 1970, Janis was found dead in a motel in California from a heroin overdose.
Oddly, she wasn't buried in her hometown but cremated in California and her ashes spread out over the Pacific Ocean. Janis was recording an album called, Pearl, before she died. The album was released posthumously and became her biggest selling album.
Although not respected or accepted by her hometown while she was alive, the town named a memorial after her years later. Also, Bette Midler played Janis in the movie, Rose, which was a biography of the singer's life and a success.
Janis Joplin remains popular today and is considered to be one of the most popular artists in rock and roll and a signature of what the 1960's represented. Her singing and her style have influenced many female artists.
Janis Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
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