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Janis Joplin Biography

Home > Music > J > Joplin, Janis > Biography

Birth Name: Janis Lyn Joplin
Born: 1943/01/19
Birth Place: Port Arthur, Texas, United States
Died: 1970/10/04
Years Active: 1963–1970
Genres: Blues-rock, Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues

Janis Joplin (born Janis Lyn Joplin, January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer, songwriter and music arranger. She rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later as a solo artist.

Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Joplin as lead singer, released their self-titled debut album on Columbia Records in August 1967. The album was a minor success, peaking at #60 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and almost producing a Top 40 hit with the Joplin song, "Down on Me.”

Their next album, “Cheap Thrills,” released in August 1968, reached #1 on the Billboard 200. It kept the #1 spot for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks while the single, "Piece of My Heart," also became a huge hit. By the end of the year it was the most successful album of 1968, having sold nearly one million copies. Joplin would leave the band shortly thereafter in September 1968.

After splitting from Big Brother, Joplin formed a new backup group, The Kozmic Blues Band. They released, “I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!,” in September 1969 and it was certified gold within two months of its release. By the end of 1969 Joplin and the band broke up.

In 1970 she formed her new band, The Full Tilt Boogie Band. Full Tilt played their first session with Joplin in April 1970, at the Fillmore West studios in San Francisco, and began touring in May 1970. From June 28 to July 4, 1970, Joplin and Full Tilt joined the all-star Festival Express tour through Canada, performing alongside Grateful Dead, Delaney and Bonnie, The Band, Eric Andersen and Ian & Sylvia.

On October 4, 1970 Joplin died from an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.

In September 1970, Full Tilt and Joplin began recording a new album in Los Angeles with producer Paul A. Rothchild, who had produced recordings for The Doors. Although Joplin died before all of the tracks were fully completed, there was still enough usable material to compile an LP, which became “Pearl.”

“Pearl” became the biggest selling album of her career and featured her biggest hit single, a cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee." “Mercedes Benz" was included despite it being a first take, and the track "Buried Alive In The Blues,” to which Joplin had been scheduled to add her vocals on the day she was found dead, was kept as an instrumental. In 1971 the album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In November 2009, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum honored her as part of its annual American Music Masters Series.