Women’s History Month: Janis Joplin

Women’s History Month: Janis Joplin

5th April 1969: Rock singer Janis Joplin (1943 - 1970). (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Photo by Evening Standard/Stringer/Getty Images

March is Women’s History Month! The month is meant to honor and remember women in history who have impacted our world, so here at KLOS we will be featuring a significant female musician from history every week who has made a difference. This week we honor the queen…Janis Joplin!

Janis Joplin was born on January 19th, 1943 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Port Arthur, Texas. She grew up listening to the blues and idolizing female musicians like Odetta, Big Mama Thornton, and Bessie Smith. Joplin was a painter and expanded her artistry when she began singing blues in high school, where she was often bullied by her peers.

Joplin moved to San Francisco in 1963 and made a living as a folk singer while developing her rebellious and carefree attitude. It was during this transition that she began using drugs frequently, especially speed and occasionally heroine.

In 1966, she joined San Francisco hippie blues band Big Brother & The Holding Company as their vocalist. Her raw, powerful vocals blew audiences away when the band performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The emotion that poured out from her loud, raspy voice officially put her on the map as a musical phenomenon.

Eventually, Joplin left Big Brother & The Holding Company after they released their successful album Cheap Thrills and formed her own backing band. However, while working on her second album Pearl, Joplin died of an overdose on October 4th, 1970 at the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood, California. At the young age of 27, she then became another tragic member of the 27 club. Pearl was released posthumously the next year and would be her most commercially successful album and one of the most iconic records of all time.

Although we lost Joplin many years too soon, she truly made an enormous impact in rock ‘n’ roll history even with her limited years on Earth. She will always be remembered for her free-spirited manner and that chilling voice.

Watch Janis Joplin perform Ball & Chain with Big Brother at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 here:


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