A Rockapaedia Obituary
Janis Joplin died aged twenty-seven on 4th October at the at Landmark Motor Hotel in
Hollywood, California, U.S.A. . Producer Paul Rothchild had became concerned when Janis failed to show up at Sunset Sound Recorders for a recording session. Her road manager then drove to the where Janis was staying. He saw Janis Joplin's psychedelically painted Porsche 356 C Cabriolet in the parking lot. Upon entering Janis's room he found her dead on the floor beside her bed. The official cause of death was a heroin overdose, possibly compounded by alcohol.
Janis Lyn Joplin was born on 19th January 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas, USA to Dorothy Bonita East and her husband, Seth Ward Joplin an engineer at Texaco. She had two younger siblings, Michael and Laura. The family attended the Church of Christ.
Janis's parents felt that Janis needed more attention than their other children. As a teenager, Janis Joplin befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by blues artists Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Lead Belly, whom Janis later credited with influencing her decision to become a singer. She began singing blues and folk music with friends at Thomas Jefferson High School.
Janis Joplin stated that she was ostracised and bullied in high school. As a teen, she became overweight and suffered with acne, leaving her with deep scars that required dermabrasion. Other kids at high school would routinely taunt her and call her names like "pig", "freak", "nigger lover", or "creep". She stated, "I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I thought. I didn't hate niggers."
Janis Joplin graduated from high school in 1960 and attended Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas, during the summer and later the University of Texas at Austin, though she did not complete her college studies. The campus newspaper, The Daily Texan, ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined "She Dares to Be Different." The article began, "She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levis to class because they're more comfortable, and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song, it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin." While at UT she performed with a folk trio called the Waller Creek Boys and frequently socialized with the staff of the campus humor magazine The Texas Ranger.
Janis Joplin cultivated a rebellious manner and styled herself partly after her female blues heroines and partly after the Beat poets. Her first song, 'What Good Can Drinkin' Do', was recorded on tape in December 1962 at the home of a fellow University of Texas student.
Janis left Texas in January 1963 ("just to get away," she said, "because my head was in a much different place"), moving to North Beach, San Francisco and later Haight-Ashbury. In 1964, Janis Joplin and future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen recorded a number of blues standards, which incidentally featured Kaukonen's wife Margareta using a typewriter in the background. This session included seven tracks: "Typewriter Talk," "Trouble in Mind," "Kansas City Blues," "Hesitation Blues," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy", and "Long Black Train Blues," and was later released as the bootleg album 'The Typewriter Tape'. Around this time, Janis Joplin's drug use increased, and she acquired a reputation as a "speed freak" and occasional heroin user. She also used other psychoactive drugs and was a heavy drinker throughout her career; her favorite alcoholic beverage was Southern Comfort. In early 1965, Janis Joplin's friends in San Francisco, noticing the detrimental effects on her from regularly injecting methamphetamine and persuaded her to return to Port Arthur. In May 1965, Janis Joplin's friends threw her a bus-fare party so she could go back home.
Back in Port Arthur in the spring of 1965, Janis Joplin changed her lifestyle. She avoided drugs and alcohol, adopted a beehive hairdo, and enrolled as an anthropology major at Lamar University in nearby Beaumont, Texas. During her time at Lamar University, she commuted to Austin to sing solo, accompanying herself on guitar. One of her performances was at a benefit by local musicians for Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb, who was suffering with ill health.
Janis Joplin became engaged to Peter de Blanc in the fall of 1965. She had begun a relationship with him toward the end of her first stint in San Francisco. Now living in New York where he worked with IBM computers, he visited her to ask her father for her hand in marriage. Janis Joplin and her mother began planning the wedding. De Blanc, who traveled frequently, ended the engagement soon afterward.
Just prior to joining Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin recorded seven studio tracks in 1965. Among the songs she recorded was her original composition for the song "Turtle Blues" and an alternate version of "Cod'ine" by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
In 1966, Janis Joplin's bluesy vocal style attracted the attention of the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, a band that had gained some renown among the nascent hippie community in Haight-Ashbury. She was recruited to join the group by Chet Helms, a promoter who had known her in Texas and who at the time was managing Big Brother. Helms took her back to San Francisco and Joplin joined Big Brother on June 1966. Her first public performance with them was at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.
In June, Janis Joplin was photographed at an outdoor concert in San Francisco that celebrated the summer solstice. The image, which was later published in two books by David Dalton, shows her before she relapsed into drugs. Due to persistent persuading by keyboardist and close friend Stephen Ryder, Janis Joplin avoided drugs for several weeks, enjoining bandmate Dave Getz to promise that using needles would not be allowed in their rehearsal space, her apartment, or in the homes of her bandmates whom she visited. When a visitor injected drugs in front of Janis Joplin and Getz, Janis angrily reminded Getz that he had broken his promise. A San Francisco concert from that summer was recorded and released in the 1984 album Cheaper Thrills. In July, all five bandmates and guitarist James Gurley's wife Nancy moved to a house in Lagunitas, California, where they lived communally. They often partied with the Grateful Dead, who lived less than two miles away. She had a short relationship and longer friendship with founding member Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
The band went to Chicago for a four-week engagement in August 1966, then found themselves stranded after the promoter ran out of money when their concerts did not attract the expected audience levels, and he was unable to pay them. In the circumstances the band signed to Bob Shad's record label Mainstream Records; recordings for the label took place in Chicago in September, but these were not satisfactory, and the band returned to San Francisco, continuing to perform live, including at the Love Pageant Rally. The band recorded two tracks "Blindman" and "All Is Loneliness" in Los Angeles, and these were released by Mainstream as a single which did not sell well. After playing at a "happening" in Stanford in early December 1966, the band travelled back to Los Angeles to record 10 tracks in December 1966, produced by Bob Shad, which appeared on the band's debut album in August 1967.
One of Janis Joplin's earliest major performances in 1967 was the Mantra-Rock Dance, a musical event held on January 29th at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple. Janis Joplin and Big Brother performed there along with the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, Allen Ginsberg, Moby Grape, and Grateful Dead, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple. In early 1967, Janis Joplin met Country Joe McDonald of the group Country Joe and the Fish. The pair lived together as a couple for a few months. Janis Joplin and Big Brother began playing clubs in San Francisco, at the Fillmore West, Winterland and the Avalon Ballroom. They also played at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, the Psychedelic Supermarket in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Golden Bear Club in Huntington Beach, California.
The band's debut studio album, 'Big Brother & the Holding Company', was released by Mainstream Records in August 1967, shortly after the group's breakthrough appearance in June at the Monterey Pop Festival. Two tracks, "Coo Coo" and "The Last Time", were released separately as singles, while the tracks from the previous single, "Blindman" and "All Is Loneliness", were added to the remaining eight tracks. When Columbia Records took over the band's contract and re-released the album, they included "Coo Coo" and "The Last Time", and put "featuring Janis Joplin" on the cover. The debut album spawned four minor hits with the singles "Down on Me," a traditional song arranged by Joplin, "Bye Bye Baby," "Call On Me" and "Coo Coo," on all of which Janis Joplin sang lead vocals. Two songs from the second of Big Brother's two sets at Monterey were filmed. "Combination of the Two" and a version of Big Mama Thornton's "Ball 'n' Chain" appear in the DVD box set of D. A. Pennebaker's documentary Monterey Pop released by The Criterion Collection. The film captured Cass Elliot, of The Mamas & the Papas, seated in the audience silently mouthing "Wow! That's really heavy!" during Janis Joplin's performance of 'Ball and Chain.' Only "Ball and Chain" was included in the film that was released to theaters nationwide in 1969 and shown on television in the 1970s. Those who did not attend Monterey Pop saw the band's performance of "Combination of the Two" for the first time in 2002 when The Criterion Collection released the box set.
After switching managers from Chet Helms to Julius Karpen in 1966, the group signed with top artist manager Albert Grossman, whom they met for the first time at Monterey Pop. For the remainder of 1967, Big Brother performed mainly in California. On February 16th 1968, the group began its first East Coast tour in Philadelphia, and the following day gave their first performance in New York City at the Anderson Theater. On April 7th 1968, the last day of their East Coast tour, Janis Joplin and Big Brother performed with Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop at the "Wake for Martin Luther King, Jr." concert in New York.
Live at Winterland '68, recorded at the Winterland Ballroom on April 12th and 13th 1968, features Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company at the height of their mutual career working through a selection of tracks from their albums. A recording became available to the public for the first time in 1998 when Sony Music Entertainment released the compact disc. One month later, Owsley Stanley recorded them at the Carousel Ballroom, released as Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 in 2012. In early 1968, Janis Joplin and Big Brother made their nationwide television debut on The Dick Cavett Show, an ABC daytime variety show hosted by Dick Cavett. Shortly thereafter, network employees wiped the videotape. Over the next two years, Janis made three appearances on the primetime Cavett program, and all were preserved.
By 1968, the band was being billed as "Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company," and the media coverage given to Janis Joplin generated resentment within the band. The other members of Big Brother thought that Janis Joplin was on a "star trip," while others were telling Janis that Big Brother was a terrible band and that she ought to dump them. Time magazine called Janis Joplin "probably the most powerful singer to emerge from the white rock movement," and Richard Goldstein wrote for the May 1968 issue of Vogue magazine that Janis Joplin was "the most staggering leading woman in rock... she slinks like tar, scowls like war... clutching the knees of a final stanza, begging it not to leave... Janis Joplin can sing the chic off any listener."
For her first major studio recording, Janis Joplin played a major role in the arrangement and production of the songs that would comprise Big Brother and the Holding Company's second album, 'Cheap Thrills'. During the recording sessions (produced by the noted John Simon, known for his recent work with Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen and The Band), Janis Joplin was said to be the first person to enter the studio and the last person to leave. Footage of Janis Joplin and the band in the studio shows Janis Joplin in great form and taking charge during the recording for "Summertime." The album featured a cover design by counterculture cartoonist Robert Crumb. Although 'Cheap Thrills' sounded as if it consisted of concert recordings, like on "Combination of the Two" and "I Need a Man to Love," only "Ball and Chain" was actually recorded in front of a paying audience; the rest of the tracks were studio recordings. The album had a raw quality, including the sound of a drinking glass breaking and the broken shards being swept away during the song "Turtle Blues." 'Cheap Thrills' produced very popular hits with "Piece of My Heart" and "Summertime." Together with the premiere of the documentary film Monterey Pop at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on December 26th 1968, the album launched Janis Joplin's successful, albeit short, musical career. 'Cheap Thrills' reached Number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart eight weeks after its release, remaining for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks. The album was certified gold at release and sold over a million copies in the first month of its release. The lead single from the album, "Piece of My Heart," reached Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1968.
The band made another East Coast tour during July–August 1968, performing at the Columbia Records convention in Puerto Rico and the Newport Folk Festival. After returning to San Francisco for two hometown shows at the Palace of Fine Arts Festival on August 31 and September 1st Janis Joplin announced that she would be leaving Big Brother. On September 14th 1968, culminating a three-night engagement together at Fillmore West, fans thronged to a concert that Bill Graham publicized as the last official concert of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The opening acts on this night were Chicago and Santana.
Despite Graham's announcement that the Fillmore West gig was Big Brother's last concert with Janis Joplin, the band—with Janis Joplin still as lead vocalist—toured the United States that fall. Reflecting Janis Joplin's crossover appeal, two October 1968 performances at a roller rink in Alexandria, Virginia were reviewed by John Segraves of the conservative Washington Evening Star at a time when the Washington metropolitan area's hard rock scene was in its infancy. An opera buff at the time, he wrote, "Miss Joplin, in her early 20s, has been for the last year or two the vocalist with Big Brother and the Holding Company, a rock quintet of superior electric expertise. Shortly she will be merely Janis Joplin, a vocalist singing folk rock on her first album as a single. Whatever she does and whatever she sings she'll do it well because her vocal talents are boundless. This is the way she came across in a huge, high-ceilinged roller skating rink without any acoustics but, thankfully a good enough sound system behind her. In a proper room, I would imagine there would be no adjectives to describe her." Later that month, Big Brother performed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. During a November concert at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, bassist Peter Albin made fun of Janis Joplin in front of their audience, joking that when she panted after finishing a song she sounded like Lassie. Aside from two 1970 reunions, Janis Joplin's last performance with Big Brother was at a Family Dog benefit in San Francisco on December 1, 1968.
After splitting from Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin formed a new backup group, the Kozmic Blues Band, composed of session musicians like keyboardist Stephen Ryder and saxophonist Cornelius "Snooky" Flowers, as well as former Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist Sam Andrew and future Full Tilt Boogie Band bassist Brad Campbell. The band was influenced by the Stax-Volt rhythm and blues and soul bands of the 1960s, as exemplified by Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays. The Stax-Volt R&B sound was typified by the use of horns and had a funky, pop-oriented sound in contrast to many of the psychedelic/hard rock bands of the period.
By early 1969, Janis Joplin was allegedly shooting at least $200 worth of heroin per day although efforts were made to keep her clean during the recording of I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!. Gabriel Mekler, who produced the Kozmic Blues, told publicist-turned-biographer Myra Friedman after Janis Joplin's death that the singer had lived in his house during the June 1969 recording sessions at his insistence so he could keep her away from drugs and her drug-using friends.
Janis Joplin's appearances with the Kozmic Blues Band in Europe were released in cinemas, in multiple documentaries. Janis, which was reviewed by the Washington Post on March 21, 1975, shows Janis Joplin arriving in Frankfurt by plane and waiting inside a bus next to the Frankfurt venue, while an American fan who is visiting Germany expresses enthusiasm to the camera. (No security was used in Frankfurt, so by the end of the concert the stage was so packed with people the band members could not see each other.) Janis also includes interviews with Joplin in Stockholm and from her visit to London, for her gig at Royal Albert Hall.
On one episode of The Dick Cavett Show, they performed "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" as well as "To Love Somebody". As Dick Cavett interviewed Janis Joplin, she admitted that she had a terrible time touring in Europe, claiming that audiences there are very uptight and don't "get down". She also revealed that she was a big fan of Tina Turner saying Turner was an incredible singer, dancer, and show woman.
Released in September 1969, the Kozmic Blues album was certified gold later that year but did not match the success of Cheap Thrills. Reviews of the new group were mixed. However, the album's recording quality and engineering, as well as the musicianship (including three performances by former Bob Dylan/Paul Butterfield/Electric Flag guitarist Mike Bloomfield), were considered superior to her previous releases, and some music critics argued that the band was working in a much more constructive way to support Janis Joplin's sensational vocal talents. Janis wanted a horn section similar to that featured by the Chicago Transit Authority.
Columbia Records released "Kozmic Blues" as a single, which peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a live rendition of "Raise Your Hand" was released in Germany and became a top ten hit there. Containing other hits like "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)", "To Love Somebody", and "Little Girl Blue", I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 soon after its release.
Janis Joplin appeared at Woodstock starting at approximately 2:00 a.m., on Sunday, August 17th 1969. She followed Creedence Clearwater Revival. Despite her reportedly not even knowing of the festival's existence until a few days earlier, the Woodstock promoters advertised her as a headliner. She thus became one of the main attractions of the historic concert. Her friend Peggy Caserta claims in her book, Going Down With Janis (1973), that she had encouraged a reluctant Janis Joplin to perform at Woodstock.
Janis Joplin informed her band that they would be performing at the concert as if it were just another gig. On Saturday afternoon, when she and the band were flown by helicopter with the pregnant Joan Baez and Baez's mother from a nearby motel to the festival site and Janis Joplin saw the enormous crowd, she instantly became incredibly nervous and giddy. Upon landing and getting off the helicopter, Janis Joplin was approached by reporters asking her questions. She deferred them to Caserta as she was too excited to speak. Initially Janis Joplin was eager to get on the stage and perform, but was repeatedly delayed as bands were contractually obliged to perform ahead of her. Faced with a ten-hour wait after arriving at the backstage area, Janis Joplin shot heroin and drank alcohol with Caserta, and by the time of reaching the stage, she was "three sheets to the wind".
Janis Joplin pulled through, however, and engaged frequently with the crowd, asking them if they had everything they needed and if they were staying stoned. The audience cheered for an encore, to which Janis Joplin replied and sang "Ball and Chain". Her performances of "Kozmic Blues" and "Work Me, Lord" at Woodstock are notable.
Janis remained at Woodstock for the remainder of the festival. She is said to have really enjoyed Sly and The Family Stone's performance immediately after hers. Starting at approximately 3:00 a.m. on Monday, August 18th Janis Joplin was among many Woodstock performers who stood in a circle behind Crosby, Stills & Nash during their performance, which was the first time anyone at Woodstock ever had heard that new group's music. This information was published by David Crosby in 1988.
Still photographs in color show Janis Joplin backstage with Grace Slick the day after Joplin's performance, wherein she appears to be very happy. Janis Joplin was ultimately unhappy with her performance, however, and blamed Caserta. Her singing was not included (by her own insistence) in the 1970 documentary film or the soundtrack for Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, although the 25th anniversary director's cut of Woodstock includes her performance of "Work Me, Lord". The documentary film of the festival that was released to theaters in 1970 includes, on the left side of a split screen, 37 seconds of footage of Janis Joplin and Caserta walking toward Janis's dressing room tent.
Laura Joplin, Janis' younger sister, said in an interview that her sister went straight to her parents' home in Port Arthur, Texas, following Woodstock, was incredibly vibrant and happy after coming home, and really loved the festival. Joplin told her family how great it was, but her mother and father remained distant on the subject as they did not really understand the hippie movement.
In addition to Woodstock, Janis Joplin also had problems at Madison Square Garden, in 1969. Biographer Myra Friedman said she witnessed a duet Joplin sang with Tina Turner during The Rolling Stones concert at the Garden on Thanksgiving Day. Friedman said Janis Joplin was "so drunk, so stoned, so out of control, that she could have been an institutionalized psychotic.. During another Garden concert where she had solo billing on December 19th , some observers believed Janis Joplin tried to incite the audience to riot. For part of this concert she was joined onstage by Johnny Winter and Paul Butterfield.
Janis Joplin told rock journalist David Dalton that Garden audiences watched and listened to "every note she sang with 'Is she gonna make it?' in their eyes." In her interview with Dalton she added that she felt most comfortable performing at small, cheap venues in San Francisco that were associated with the counterculture.
At the time of this June 1970 interview, Janis had already performed in the Bay Area for what turned out to be the last time. Sam Andrew, the lead guitarist who had left Big Brother with Joplin in December 1968 to form her back-up band, quit in late summer 1969 and returned to Big Brother. At the end of the year, the Kozmic Blues Band broke up.
In February 1970, Janis Joplin travelled to Brazil, where she stopped her drug and alcohol use. She was accompanied on vacation there by her friend Linda Gravenites, who had designed the singer's stage costumes from 1967 to 1969.
In Brazil, Janis Joplin was romanced by a fellow American tourist named David Niehaus, who was travelling around the world. A Janis Joplin biography written by her sister Laura said, "David was an upper-middle-class Cincinnati kid who had studied communications at Notre Dame had joined the Peace Corps after college and worked in a small village in Turkey. ... He tried law school, but when he met Janis he was taking time off."
Niehaus and Janis Joplin were photographed by the press at Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Gravenites also took color photographs of the two during their Brazilian vacation. According to Janis Joplin biographer Ellis Amburn, in Gravenites' snapshots they "look like a carefree, happy, healthy young couple having a tremendously good time."
Rolling Stone magazine interviewed Janis Joplin during an international phone call, quoting her: "I'm going into the jungle with a big bear of a beatnik named David Niehaus. I finally remembered I don't have to be on stage twelve months a year. I've decided to go and dig some other jungles for a couple of weeks." Amburn added in 1992, "Janis was trying to kick heroin in Brazil, and one of the nicest things about George was that he wasn't into drugs."
When Janis returned to the United States, she began using heroin again. Her relationship with Niehaus soon ended because he witnessed her shooting drugs at her new home in Larkspur, California. The relationship was also complicated by her ongoing romantic relationship with Peggy Caserta, who also was an intravenous addict, and Janis Joplin's refusal to take some time off and travel the world with him.
Around this time, Janis formed her new band, the Full Tilt Boogie Band. The band comprised mostly young Canadian musicians previously associated with Ronnie Hawkins and featured an organ, but no horn section.
Janis Joplin took a more active role in putting together the Full Tilt Boogie Band than she did with her prior group. She was quoted as saying, "It's my band. Finally it's my band!"
The Full Tilt Boogie Band began touring in May 1970. Janis Joplin remained quite happy with her new group, which received mostly positive feedback from both her fans and the critics.
Prior to beginning a summer tour with Full Tilt Boogie, she performed in a reunion with Big Brother at the Fillmore West, in San Francisco, on April 4th, 1970. Recordings from this concert were included in an in-concert album released posthumously in 1972. She again appeared with Big Brother on April 12th at Winterland, where she and Big Brother were reported to be in excellent form.
It was around this time that Janis Joplin began wearing multi-coloured feather boas in her hair. By the time she began touring with Full Tilt Boogie, Janis told people she was drug-free, but her drinking increased.
From June 28th to July 4th 1970, Janis Joplin and Full Tilt Boogie joined the all-star Festival Express train tour through Canada, performing alongside Buddy Guy, The Band, Ten Years After, Grateful Dead, Delaney and Bonnie, Eric Andersen, and Ian & Sylvia. They played concerts in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary. Janis ] Joplin jammed with the other performers on the train, and her performances on this tour are considered to be among her greatest.
Janis Joplin persuaded The Band, who originally did not want to perform, to do so, telling them it was going to be a great party.
Janis Joplin headlined the festival on all three nights. At the last stop in Calgary, she took to the stage with Jerry Garcia while her band was tuning up. She told the audience how great the tour was and presented the organisers with a case of tequila. She then burst into a two-hour set, starting with "Tell Mama". Throughout this performance, Janis Joplin engaged in several banters wherein she spoke about her failed love life. She finished the night with long versions of "Get It While You Can" and "Ball and Chain".
Footage of her performance of "Tell Mama" in Calgary became an MTV video in the early 1980s, and the song was included on the Farewell Song (1982) album. The audio of other Festival Express performances was included on Joplin's In Concert (1972) album. Video of the performances was also included on the Festival Express DVD.
Some of her full performances of Festival Express exist, although all the footage has yet to be released.
In the "Tell Mama" video shown on MTV in the 1980s, Janis Joplin wore a psychedelically colored, loose-fitting costume and feathers in her hair. This was her standard stage costume in the spring and summer of 1970. She chose the new costumes after her friend and designer, Linda Gravenites.
During the Festival Express tour, Janis Joplin was accompanied by Rolling Stone writer David Dalton, who later wrote several articles and two books on Janis.
Among Janis Joplin's last public appearances were two broadcasts of The Dick Cavett Show. In her June 25th 1970 appearance, she announced that she would attend her ten-year high school class reunion. When asked if she had been popular in school, she admitted that when in high school, her schoolmates "laughed me out of class, out of town and out of the state."
Janis Joplin's last public performance with the Full Tilt Boogie Band took place on August 12th 1970, at the Harvard Stadium in Boston. The Harvard Crimson gave the performance a positive, front-page review, despite the fact that Full Tilt Boogie had performed with makeshift amplifiers after their regular sound equipment was stolen in Boston.
During late August, September, and early October 1970, Janis Joplin and her band rehearsed and recorded a new album in Los Angeles with producer Paul A. Rothchild, best known for his lengthy relationship with The Doors. Although Janis Joplin died before all the tracks were fully completed, there was enough usable material to compile an LP. The posthumous Pearl (1971) became the biggest-selling album of her career and featured her biggest hit single, a cover of Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster's "Me and Bobby McGee". (Kristofferson had previously been Joplin's lover in the spring of 1970.) The opening track, "Move Over", was written by Janis Joplin, reflecting the way that she felt men treated women in relationships. Also included was the social commentary of "Mercedes Benz", presented in an a cappella arrangement; the track on the album features the first and only take that Janis Joplin recorded. A cover of Nick Gravenites's "Buried Alive in the Blues," to which Janis Joplin had been scheduled to add her vocals on the day she was found dead, was included as an instrumental. In 2003, 'Pearl' was ranked No. 122 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Janis Joplin checked into the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood on August 24th 1970, near Sunset Sound Recorders, where she began rehearsing and recording her album. During the sessions, Janis continued a relationship with Seth Morgan, a 21-year-old UC Berkeley student, cocaine dealer, and future novelist who had visited her new home in Larkspur in July and August. She and Morgan were engaged to be married in early September.
Peggy Caserta claimed in her book, 'Going Down With Janis' that she and Janis had decided mutually in April 1970 to stay away from each other to avoid enabling each other's drug use.
On September 26th 1970, Janis Joplin recorded vocals for "Half Moon" and "Cry Baby". Then Full Tilt Boogie recorded the instrumental track for "Buried Alive in the Blues". The session ended with Janis Joplin, organist Ken Pearson, and drummer Clark Pierson making a special one-minute recording as a birthday gift to John Lennon. Janis Joplin was among several singers who had been contacted by Yoko Ono with a request for a taped greeting for Lennon's 30th birthday, on October 9. Janis Joplin, Pearson, and Pierson chose the Dale Evans composition "Happy Trails" as part of the greeting. Lennon told Dick Cavett on-camera the following year that Janis Joplin's recorded birthday wishes arrived at his home after her death.
Janis Joplin's death stunned her fans and shocked the music world, especially when coupled with the death just 16 days earlier of another rock icon, Jimi Hendrix, also at age 27.