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Janis Joplin

On 19/01/1943: Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. When Janis was a teenager she would be friends with a group of outcasts, one of them had albums of blues artists such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Lead Belly. The blues albums influenced Joplin into making a decision to become a singer. Whilst still at school she was mostly a painter, but also began singing blues and folk music.
In 1960, she graduated high school and attended Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas, before later attending the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1962, she recorded her first song on tape at a fellow University of Texas student's home. The song was called "What Good Can Drinkin' Do".
In 1963, Joplin left Texas and moved to North Beach, San Francisco, before moving to Haight-Ashbury.
In 1964, Joplin and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen recorded a number of blues standards. The recordings were later released as a bootleg called "The Typewriter Tape" being named after the sound of Margareta Kaukonen using a typewriter in the background. During this time, Joplin had increased her use of drugs.
In 1965, Joplin's friends noticed the effects on her health from her drug use and persuaded her to return to Port Arthur, Texas. In Port Arthur, Joplin avoided drugs and alcohol. She enrolled at Lamar University. Whilst at the university, she performed solo regularly. One of her performances was at a benefit concert for the blues artist Mance Lipscomb. She became engaged to Peter de Blanc, but he cut off the engagement soon after. Also in 1965, Joplin recorded seven studio tracks.
In 1966, promoter Chet Helms recruited Joplin into the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Helms had known her in Texas and he was manager Big Brother. Joplin was brought back to San Francisco and her first performance with the band was at the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco. The bandmates all moved to a house in Lagunitas, California. The band went to Chicago for a four-week tour. They were left stranded after the promoter ran out of money from poor audience attendances. The band signed to Bob Shad's record label Mainstream Records and recorded in Chicago. The recordings weren't satisfactory and the band returned to San Francisco. Back in San Francisco, the band recorded the songs "Blindman" and "All Is Loneliness", which were released on Mainstream Records. The sales were not particularly good. In December, after a happening in Stanford, the band recorded 10 tracks in Los Angeles, produced by Bob Shad.
In 1967, the band released their debut album "Big Brother & The Holding Company", featuring the ten tracks recorded in December. It was released shortly after a breakthrough appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival.
In 1968, the band played at the "Wake for Martin Luther King Jr" alongside Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop. The concert was at the end of their East Coast tour. By 1968, the band was being billed at Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Also in 1968, the band released their second album "Cheap Thrills" with Columbia Records. The album included the popular songs "Piece of My Heart" and "Summertime". The band went on tour. Joplin decided to leave the band and was to make her final gig at the Filmore West but continued for a US tour. Joplin's last performance with the band was at a Family Dog benefit in December.
Joplin formed a backup group called the Kozmic Blues Band. It included keyboardist Stephen Ryder, saxophonist Cornelius "Snooky" Flowers, guitarist Sam Andrew and bassist Brad Campbell.
By 1969, Joplin was shooting a lot of heroin daily. Efforts were made to her clean, including staying at publicist Myra Friedman's house during recording sessions to keep her away from drugs. In 1969, Joplin released the album "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!". The album was not as successful as "Cheap Thrills" but did reach number 5 on the Billboard Chart soon after its release. Also in 1969, Joplin appeared at the legendary Woodstock festival as a headliner. She had only become aware of the festival a few days before it. She also appeared at Madison Square Garden that year. At the end of 1969, the Kozmic Blues Band broke up, with a Madison Square Garden date being their final gig.
In 1970, Joplin travelled to Brazil and stopped taking drugs and alcohol. When Joplin returned to the US, she started taking them again. She formed a new band called the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Joplin had a reunion with Big Brother for a gig at the Filmore West, San Francisco. After the gig, the Full Tilt Boogie Band went on tour. Joplin also performed with Big Brother again for a gig at the Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco. Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie joined the all-star Festival Expresse train tour in Canada. It included Buddy Guy, The Band, Ten Years After, Grateful Dead, Delaney and Bonnie, Eric Andersen, and Ian & Sylvia. Joplin made her last public performance with the Full Tilt Boogie Band at the Harvard Stadium, Boston. Joplin and her band rehearsed and recorded a new album in Los Angeles. The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders.
On 04/10/1970, Joplin failed to turn up to a session at Sunset Sound Recorders. She was found dead in her hotel room at the Landmark Motor Hotel, Hollywood. The cause of death was declared as a heroin overdose, possibly compounded by alcohol.
In 1995, Joplin was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005, she received a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2013, Joplin was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
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