Janis Joplin (1943–1970) was born in the oil town of Port Arthur, Texas and inspired by early blues artists such as Bessie Smith, she left school to try and become a singer. Moving to San Francisco in 1963 with friend Chet Helms, she sang in clubs and cafés, but her lack of success led to escalating drug use and after two years, she returned to Port Arthur, enrolled in college and tried to lead a more conventional life. Big Brother and the Holding Company invited her to join in 1966. Her raucous rendition of Big Mama Thornton’s ‘Ball and Chain’ recorded at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, together with the hit album Cheap Thrills (1968), notable for the track ‘Piece of My Heart’, gained her the moniker “first lady of rock ‘n’ roll”. But Joplin’s rising fame caused friction and she soon left and formed the Kozmic Blues Band, playing a legendary set at Woodstock in 1969. A solo album I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! including the now classic ‘Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)’ soon followed.
Back to Authors List