Janis Lyn Joplin was born at St. Mary's Hospital in the oil-refining town of Port Arthur, Texas, near the border with Louisiana. Her father was a cannery worker and her mother was a registrar for a business college.
As an overweight teenager, she was a folk-music devotee (especially Odetta, Leadbelly and Bessie Smith). After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School, she attended Lamar State College and the University of Texas, where she played auto-harp in Austin bars. A fraternity voted her the Ugliest Man on Campus in 1963, and she spent two years traveling, performing and becoming drug-addicted.
Back home in 1966, her friend Chet Helms suggested she become lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company, an established Haight-Ashbury band consisting of guitarists James Gurley and Sam Andrew, bassist Peter Albin and drummer Dave Getz).
She got wide recognition through the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, highlights of which were released in Monterey Pop (1968), and with the band's landmark second album, "Cheap Thrills". She formed her "Kosmic Blues Band" the following year and achieved still further recognition as a solo performer at Woodstock in 1969, highlights released in Woodstock (1970). In the spring of 1970, she sang with the "Full Tilt Boogie Band" and, on October 4 of that year, she was found dead in Hollywood's Landmark Motor Hotel (now known as Highland Gardens Hotel) from a heroin-alcohol overdose the previous day.
Her ashes were scattered off the coast of California. Her biggest selling album was the posthumously released "Pearl", which contained her quintessential song: "Me & Bobby McGee".
My advice to everyone is come to California and I'll buy you a drink.
On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone.
[asked by a reporter what "acid rock" was]
I wouldn't know. I'm a juicer.
You know, I have to have the umph. I've got to feel it, because if it's not getting through to me, the audience sure as hell aren't going to feel it either.
They're frauds, the whole goddamn [hippie] culture. They bitch about brainwashing from their parents and they do the same damn thing. I've never known a one of those people who would tolerate any way of life but their own.
I don't believe in gate-crashing. The people aren't up there when I'm sweating on a stage at a festival, breaking my ass. You can get the money [to buy a concert ticket], man. Sell your old lady, sell your dope. Look at me, man, I'm selling my heart.
Most [TV] shows are such shit, like selling plastic raindrops.