Sunday, October 4, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Janis Joplin, the legendary singer whose passionate, blues-rock style has gone on to influence generations of female artists, including Stevie Nicks, Heart‘s Ann Wilson, Melissa Etheridge and Pink.
Joplin, who struggled with addictions to both heroin and alcohol, was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room from an accidental heroin overdose. She was 27.
Janis came to fame as the lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company, joining the San Francisco group in 1966. She and the group made their mark at the 1967 Moterey Pop festival, where Joplin wowed the crowds with her intense performance and raspy, emotioned-filled voice. Janis’ talent was so outstanding that Vogue magazine declared her “the most staggering leading woman in rock.”
Big Brother and the Holding Company broke through with their second album, Cheap Thrills, which topped the Billboard 200 chart and included the enduring hit “Piece of My Heart.”
After Joplin left that band in 1968, she started a new group, The Kozmic Blues Band. Following a legendary performance at the Woodstock festival in 1969, the group broke up, and Janis put together another one, The Full Tilt Boogie Band.
Joplin’s final studio album, Pearl, was posthumously released in 1971. It became her most successful album, reaching the top of the Billboard chart, and featuring the #1 hit “Me & Bobby McGee.”
Janis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In 2013, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
By Matt Friedlander
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