8 unknown facts about Janis Joplin, the cosmic queen of blues music
With her legendary voice and music, Janis has been one of the biggest inspirations for many musicians and music listeners.
Janis Joplin, popular for expressing various emotions through the timbre of her music and voice, is one of the most successful blues artists of all time. However, labeling her within one genre would be incorrect. During her 27-year life, she made a name for herself in genres like soul, country, and psychedelic-acid rock. Here are 8 unknown facts about Janis Joplin, the “cosmic queen” who always felt loneliness and struggled to connect with her peers and surroundings.
Her legendary voice and music inspired many musicians and listeners, and she was an unforgettable figure at the Woodstock Festival.
After hitchhiking to California in 1963 and joining the hippie movement, Joplin, unfortunately, began struggling with drug use. Although she turned to music and solo projects, her circumstances weren’t too pleasant.
Aside from music, Joplin and Morrison shared a common affinity for alcohol. Yet, Joplin found Morrison’s drunken behavior intolerable and repeatedly rebuffed him. At a party hosted by producer Paul Rothchild, Joplin expressed extreme displeasure towards Morrison’s behavior. His persistence led to her hitting him with a Southern Comfort bottle. James Riordan’s biography, “Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison,” states that Morrison, despite being knocked unconscious, continued to admire Joplin.
Bessie Smith, known as the “Empress of the Blues,” was an idol for Joplin. Even she told her friends she belied herself to be Smith’s reincarnation. Upon discovering that Smith had been buried in an unmarked grave following her death in a car crash at 43, Joplin was outraged. She later bought a tombstone for Smith, inscribed with “The World’s Greatest Blues Singer Will Never Stop Singing!”
During a 1969 concert in Tampa, Florida, police officers took to the stage. And they asked Joplin to help in order, as the audience was overly rowdy and disruptive. Instead of helping them, Joplin cursed at the officers. Although she completed the concert once the crowd settled, she was arrested backstage by the police.
In 2015, Joplin’s Porsche 365, bought in 1968, sold at auction for a record-breaking $1.76 million. The car was adorned with vibrant illustrations of birds, butterflies, floating eyes, landscapes, mushrooms, and skull-like designs.
Joplin and her band, the Kozmic Blues Band, spent ten hours backstage when they arrived at Woodstock in 1969. Joplin admitted to spending that time drinking and felt she looked too disheveled for the stage. Consequently, she declined to have these images included in the later Woodstock documentary.
In her film Little Girl Blue, filmmaker Amy Berg utilized letters Joplin wrote to her parents as primary source material. These letters revealed Joplin’s worries about her lifestyle, her attempts to gain her family’s approval, and her search for support. When she moved to San Francisco to pursue her music career, she wrote to them, “I’m sorry for being the weakling and the bad girl in the family.”
Joplin’s emotional outbursts on stage were more calculated than the audience believed. She had studied different types of screams beforehand and incorporated them into her performance, often considering their musical impact.
On October 1, 1970, Joplin met with a lawyer, Robert Gordon, to sign her will. Gordon mentioned that Joplin seemed happy during this process. Tragically, she was found dead just three days later.