Janis Joplin, RIP

The iconic rock singer died this weekend 50 years ago.

She was 27.

Here’s one of her less generic tracks.


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  • I must confess that her appeal utterly escaped me. What I heard was an angry rattling box of gravel. This is not to denigrate the taste of anyone who responded positively to her music, but to remind me of the limits of my own receptive bandwidth.

  • A tragic life and a tragic end. May she rest in peace.
    Many of my pals in the SF Bay Area in the late 60s did not agree with me in my distaste for Joplin’s singing. She had spirit and commitment (and that Texas blues style) to be sure, but she shouted and yelled rather than sang and her voice very soon became raw and tattered. Her multi-hundred USD-per-day heroin habit and penchant for drinking vast quantities of Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort whiskies didn’t help matters much either.
    Back in the day, I preferred Linda Tillery with the band Cold Blood. And anyone who was around SF in those days knows what I mean.

    • If I’m thinking of the same Linda Tillery, they’re really very different. However, I feel much the same way you do, Greg. I’m very sympathetic to J.J. and I’m sure she was a deep and wonderful person, if one could sweep off the heroin and Jack Daniels influence. But yes, her voice became so raw and tattered. It really was a shame.

      • I think you are thinking of the same Linda Tillery, Barry, and yes, they were very different. That’s probably why I preferred her singing to Janis’. (Plus Cold Blood was a much better band than Big Brother.)
        I heard a number of blues (and blues-y) singers come through town back then and none of them sounded and looked as wasted as Janis did. And it’s not 20/20 hindsight speaking either: Janis was a lost soul – anyone could see that who saw and heard her in person. She was a very good showwoman and certainly gave 300%, but it was obvious that she was hurting.

  • I saw her perform at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. During the guitar solo in a splendid rendition of Summertime, the spotlight lit up the wrong guitarist, who frantically gesticulated towards his colleague. JJ was greatly amused.

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