January 19, 1943- October 4, 197o
Today marks 40 years since singer Janis Joplin passed away. Born in Texas, Joplin grew up listening to music. A friend of hers had lent her records by Leadbelly and Bessie Smith, the latter influencing her to start singing. Despite being bullied in high school and college, Joplin pursed her dream to become a singer. She sang for a local band, which got her name around to California. A band called Big Brother and the Holding Company liked her and asked her to join the band as their lead singer. In 1966, the band were signed to an independent label called Mainstream Records and released their debut album the following year. Joplin made her breakthrough performance at the Monterey Pop Festival when she sang an amazing rendition of Big Mama Thorton's "Ball and Chain". Clive Davis signed the band to Columbia Records as a result. The band's second album, Cheap Thrill, is praised as one of the best albums of the late 1960's and also contained two of Joplin's best known songs: "Summertime" and "Piece of My Heart". Joplin left Big Brother in 1968 and formed her own backing band, Kozmic Blues Band. The resulting album, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again, Mama! wasn't well received. Still, Joplin and the band performed at Woodstock before breaking up at the end of the year.
In 1970, Joplin had formed a new band called Full Tilt Boogie. She really liked the guys in the band and together, the band performed well received shows. The band were also working on Joplin's next album. On October 4, Joplin was supposed to record the vocals to a song called "Buried Alive In the Blues". Her band had recorded the music and needed her vocals. When Joplin was late, her road manager rushed to LA to the hotel she was staying in. He went there only to see that Joplin was dead at the age of 27. Joplin died from a heroin overdose, according to the autopsy. Joplin was cremated and weeks later, a private funeral was held. Joplin's ashes were scattered in the ocean. Despite her death, the Full Tilt Boogie Band were able to record the music to Joplin's pre-recorded vocals. In 1971, Pearl was released and became her biggest album yet. She even had a #1 with "Me and Bobby McGee".
Rest in peace, Janis.