Posts Tagged ‘Janis Joplin’

Janis Joplin Pearl

“Pearl” never stood a chance at being just an album. That was assured when Janis Joplin was found dead in her hotel room of an accidental heroin overdose during the sessions that would lead to her second and final solo record. At that point, “Pearl”, which came out a little over three months later, could never simply be the latest measure of the brilliant blues singer as a recording artist. It became part of the myth of Janis Joplin — an idea that’s only grown bolder and more complex over the decades. To many fans, Pearl became her final words and a de facto farewell. To others, an incomplete hint at what could have been had she gone on. And for others still, Exhibit A, a clue of sorts to what had gone wrong for this young, white girl from Texas who had never fit in, sang like the old-time blues singers, and dazzled the world in a bright swirl of feathers before being tragically hushed.

In filmmaker Amy Berg’s award-winning 2015 documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue, it’s echoed that teasing out Joplin the person from the myth has always been a challenge. Part of that is our own fault. As music fans, we tend to romanticize blazing meteors like Joplin, who, as Neil Young would later put it, burn out rather than fade away. They flash so brilliant and blindingly across the sky that we never suspect they might come crashing down at any moment. Some of that blur is of Joplin’s own making. Big Brother and the Holding Company drummer and bandmate Dave Getz has explained that by the time Joplin went solo, she had intentionally disappeared, at least publicly, deeper into the stage character that had captured the imagination of anyone who had seen her perform. It’s the character we see portrayed on the front sleeve of Pearl: all bright, flowing garments, dangling bracelets, and plumage draped over a Victorian loveseat. It’s a persona so bold and magnetizing that it becomes easy to forget the possibility that Joplin understood the blues and expressed hurt so very well because her life, up to that time, had been full of crushing pain.

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It becomes all the more desirable, then, to push beyond the myth and take Pearl as the stunning gem it is and not merely the final act of a mysterious, mythical figure because, by all accounts, Joplin may have been on the verge of finally moving past some of the pain that had always plagued her as someone yearning for acceptance. Though she suffered from the loneliness of being a rock star and had begun self-medicating with alcohol, several people close to her indicate that she had finally kicked her lingering heroin addiction. She had found some of the first camaraderie and community since her Big Brother days in San Francisco while touring Canada that summer aboard the Festival Express. She finally had the band she needed to be her wild, unpredictable self onstage — the Full Tilt Boogie Band — and Joplin herself had spoken openly about how much Pearl producer Paul Rothchild, who had long taken an interest in the singer and expressed a desire in seeing her make records for decades to come, had taught her in the studio. It’s all the more a shame, then, that Joplin never completed those sessions. As an artist, she was that titular pearl: raw, natural, and finally getting the polish her talents deserved. And that’s how Pearl deserves to be considered and remembered.

Joplin shot to stardom as an explosive performer, so it wasn’t necessarily ill-advised that her prior solo outing — I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! with her Kozmic Blues Band and producer Gabriel Mekler — had sought to capture that kinetic chaos in the studio. However, in addition to an unexpected shift from psychedelic rock to a stronger focus on soul and R&B, Joplin’s voice spends the bulk of that record at odds with her band and their arrangements. In his November. 1969 review for Rolling Stone, critic John Burks famously lambasted the backing band, suggesting: “It’s simply a matter of reaching the point where you can shut out the band — entirely — and listen to this woman sing.” Burks is overly harsh, but he isn’t wrong that Kozmic Blues, at times, spins like a sabotage attempt on its star attraction.

Luckily, Rothchild, already a seasoned vet who had produced The Doors among many others, knew that the excitement of Joplin’s live performance could be tapped into without settling for lower-quality recordings. From the get-go on Pearl, gone is the stripped-down, stiff production that had previously left Joplin belting atop a band that sounded either out of step with her or in another zip code entirely, and jettisoned altogether are the claustrophobic horns that would crowd her voice for attention. As that tag-along guitar line kicks in over the urgent beat of opener “Move Over”, it’s clear that every piano affirmation or tambourine shake exists purely as a platform to showcase Joplin’s original tale about being fed up over a man playing games with her heart. Finally, she had not just centre stage in the studio but a spotlight.

But Pearl captures far more than Joplin finally receiving suitable production to show off her talents. Rothchild saw so much more in her than just that Otis Redding intensity and a golden throat and powerful set of lungs that, like so many primitive forces of nature, might one day sputter out. As a result, the Texas girl who grew up imitating Bessie Smith and so often, when finding herself trapped in a vocal corner onstage, could just scream and shout her way out instead learned how to put together all the components of her voice without sacrificing the ability to relate her pain and longing to listeners. And when done just right, that desire lands like a gut-punch every time. Nobody could sing the lines “Don’t you know, honey/ Ain’t nobody ever gonna love you/ The way I try to do?/ Who’ll take all your pain” in “Cry Baby” like Joplin: drawing out and cooing each syllable of one line before rattling off the next as if down on her knees. And that’s all before belting that titular chorus as only she could. It’s pained and sexy and yearning as she offers to be a man’s port in a storm when he could, if he wanted, make her his home. The similarly themed “A Woman Left Lonely” finds Joplin, rather than going from zero to 60 and back again as she might normally, building from a hushed admission to a desperate wail by song’s end, a heartrending exercise in restraint and the power of rising tension.

Pearl also finds Joplin more confident and willing to put her voice out there as vulnerably as possible. On the a capella “Mercedes Benz”, a comical commentary on the folly of consumerism and the last song Joplin ever recorded, she lets her voice hang out there ragged and bare as can be. While some might call it a novelty or even a bit of hippie relief on an album full of blues songs about wronged and longing women, for Joplin, the tomgirl bullied all her adolescence for her looks and voice, it feels like a courageous act to put herself out there like that with no place to hide. More notably, we hear Joplin trust her voice as she strums and sings Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee”, a relatable road story about the high costs of living the life we choose, proving, yet again, that she was so much more as a singer than just a belter or the theatrical performer that floored audiences onstage. It’s all the richer, then, as she begins to pepper in Joplin-isms: blending the words “McGee” and “yeah,” straining her voice at just the right moments, and finally testifying with full punctuation as the song hits its rallying final stretch. The song would climb to No. 1 and become Joplin’s most indelible hit. Fitting in that her performance of it might play just as well back home in Port Arthur, Texas, as it did in a hipper scene like Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. It’s a level of acceptance she never got to experience.

“Buried Alive in the Blues” sits smack-dab at the end of Pearl’s side one, a painful reminder that the album, like Joplin, remained unfinished. Rothchild offered the song’s composer, Nick Gravenites, a chance to sing the vocals, but he declined. So, there it sits, an absolute boogie that we’re left to wonder what-if about. Likewise, we don’t know exactly what would’ve become of Joplin had she lived beyond the Pearl sessions, but we do know what she saw herself heading towards. “Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin … they are so subtle. They can milk you with two notes. They could go no farther than A to B, and they could make you feel like they told you the whole universe … But I don’t know that yet. All I got now is strength. But maybe if I keep singing, maybe I’ll get it.” It’s difficult to say whether or not she quite got there by Pearl. What we do know, however, is that Joplin has been to dozens of singers — including Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch — what Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin were to her: a guiding light — or, in this case, a glowing pearl.

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JOPLIN, Janis - The 1969 Transmissions: Broadcast Recordings From Amsterdam & Texas

Having risen to fame following an appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, where she was the lead singer of then little-known San Francisco psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin released two albums with the group, but at the conclusion of 1968, she left Big Brother to continue as a solo artist with her own backing groups. The first of these, the Kozmic Blues Band, supported Janis throughout 1969 when she performed across Europe in the early months of the year.

One of the finest shows Janis and band performed during this time was at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on 1st April, which was recorded for FM Broadcast and transmitted live across central Europe. Janis Joplin is of the most successful and widely known rock stars of her time. 50 years after her death she remains famous for her powerful vocals and “electric” stage presence.

Fuelled by The Kozmic Blues Band she knows how to rock a concert hall build for classical music. Experience the rich sound of this unforgettable performance like never before with hit songs like ‘Ball and Chain’, ‘Piece of my Heart’ and ‘Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)’.

Janis Joplin also performed at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, and a few weeks later, in her home state, at The Texas International Pop Festival. This set was also broadcast and is generally deemed by critics to be a better performance to the one she gave at Woodstock. Both the Amsterdam and Texas performances are now included in full on this vinyl, providing fans with a fine opportunity to hear these rare recordings, which have remained unavailable for so long.

Live at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, April 1st,1969.

Janis Joplin – vocals.
Sam Andrew – guitar,vocals.
Gabriel Mekler – keyboards.
Terry Clements – tenor saxophone.
Cornelius Flowers – baritone saxophone.
Luis Gasca – trumpet.
Brad campbell – bass.
Lonnie Castille – drums.

Janis Joplin’s final studio album, “Pearl”, will be the subject of a variety of 50th Anniversary releases, overseen by the Joplin Estate and Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music.  The album, her final studio LP, was originally issued on January 11th, 1971, via Columbia Records it was released three months after Joplin‘s passing on October 4th, 1970, and eight days before what would have been her 28th birthday on January 19th.

JanisJoplin.com will be releasing an exclusive capsule collection which includes a fine art collaboration with the estate of Barry Feinstein, the acclaimed celebrity photographer who lensed the iconic Pearl album cover; further details will be announced soon. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is also curating a special exhibit devoted to Joplin, “Pearl” and more, scheduled to open May 21st, 2021.

Genesis Publications has announced the upcoming publication of a new limited edition book, Janis Joplin: Days &Summers – Scrapbook 1966-68. During her career, Joplin created a personal record of her meteoric rise to fame and the flowering of Sixties counterculture, including posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records, and annotated them with her comments. Featured alongside are previously unpublished items from her personal archive, including letters she wrote home to her family and a preceding scrapbook from her senior high school years, 1956-59. The book’s in-depth text provides a new account of the singer’s extraordinary life. It’s available to order at Joplin’s above website.

From the January. 8th announcement: The only album Joplin ever recorded with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, the touring ensemble that had backed her on the Festival Express (a mythic 1970 concert tour by railroad across Canada with the Grateful Dead, the Band and others), “Pearl” included canonical studio recordings of songs she’d introduced to audiences on tour.

Peaking at #1, a position it held for nine weeks, Pearl showcased some of Janis’s most familiar and best-loved performances including her cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and the off-the-cuff a cappella “Mercedes Benz,” the last song she ever recorded.

Pearl has been certified 4 times Platinum by the RIAA with Janis Joplin’s overall album catalogue–including greatest hits compilations–accounting for 17 Platinum and 3 Gold certifications (approximately 18.5 million records) in the United States. Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits was RIAA certified 9x Platinum on November 22, 2019 while “Piece of My Heart” (her breakout single from Big Brother & The Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, one of 1968’s top-selling albums) More than 31 million Joplin albums have been sold worldwide.

Scheduled release for April 2021, Vinyl Me, Please, the “best damn record club out there,” in association with Columbia/Legacy, will release a collectible 50th anniversary limited edition of Pearl pressed on white “Pearl” colour 180g vinyl. 

In July 2021, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, in association with Columbia/Legacy, will also release a limited edition 50th Anniversary Edition of Pearl as an UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2-LP box set. Mastered from the Original Master Tapes with Mobile Fidelity’s One-Step process.

Janis Joplin: Days & Summers

Janis Joplin: Days & Summers Scrapbook 1966-68

‘I’m sure you’ve heard that I’m a new breed swinger now, the idol of my generation, a rock’n’roll singer. Yes fans, yes, it’s true.’ – Janis Joplin

As the first-ever female rock star who dazzled listeners with her powerful voice and fierce uninhibited style, few musicians have attained the same iconic status as Janis Joplin. Now, Janis’s personal scrapbook is revealed for the first time, compiled between 1966-1968, as the singer found her star rising.

‘We’ve had Janis’s scrapbook for a long time. It was really important to her. Scrapbooks may sound quaint and old-fashioned today, but by sitting down, cutting these things out, sticking them in place and annotating them, Janis has given us a unique record of the period.’ – Michael Joplin

In her handmade scrapbook Janis Joplin created a personal record of her meteoric rise to fame and the flowering of Sixties counterculture in which she was to play a lead role. From the singer’s earliest intimate blues gigs in local coffee houses, to her first appearances with Big Brother and the Holding Company, to the band’s breakthrough performance at Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Janis’s story is remarkable. Throughout it all, she collected posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records, and annotated them with her comments.

More than 50 years later, Janis’s scrapbook is revealed for the first time. Featured alongside are previously unpublished items from her personal archive, including letters she wrote home to her family and a preceding scrapbook from her senior high school years, 1956-59. Collectively, they offer a brand new perspective on the Port Arthur girl that transformed into a rock goddess, setting the world on fire with her talent.

‘Her voice was so powerful it would cut through a rock… Right away we knew she was the one. We said to her, ‘We’re working next weekend, hope you’re ready.’ – Peter Albin, Big Brother and the Holding Company

Written by the people who really knew Janis and those inspired by her, the book’s in-depth text provides a fascinating, new account of the singer’s extraordinary life. With an introduction by Grace Slick and an afterword by Kris Kristofferson, the book’s list of nearly 40 contributors includes Big Brother bandmates Peter Albin and Dave Getz, Jefferson Airplane members Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen, musicians Mick Fleetwood, Chrissie Hynde, Tom Jones, Taj Mahal, Michelle Philips and Jimmy Page, talk show host Dick Cavett, as well as siblings Laura and Michael Joplin.

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Other figures interviewed exclusively for the project include Woodstock Festival organiser Michael Lang, American artist Stanley Mouse, writers Ben Fong-Torres, Richard Goldstein and David Dalton, plus legendary rock photographers Henry Diltz, Bob Gruen and Elliott Landy.

‘An amazingly talented human tornado who just whirled her way into our consciousness. We try to describe her but, like being in love, it’s difficult telling someone else how stunning the impact is. You know when you feel it, and Janis was probably the best at translating those all-consuming emotions.’ – Grace Slick

Janis Joplin was an American singer, songwriter and arranger, from Port Arthur, Texas, who moved to San Francisco in 1966 to join local band Big Brother and the Holding Company and pursue her dream of becoming a musician. She died aged 27 on October 4th, 1970. She is one of the most influential icons from the Sixties and considered one of the best female blues singers ever. ‘There was just nothing else like her – total rebelliousness, abandon, musical excellence, and connection with everyone in the audience. Pure magic. Everybody just loved her. She gave us a voice that was anti-establishment, and I’ve lived by it ever since.’ – Chrissie Hynde

THE SIGNATORIES

Each book in the Days & Summers edition is estate-stamped with Janis Joplin’s signature, and hand-signed by the following contributors:

Laura Joplin: Janis Joplin’s sister
Michael Joplin: Janis Joplin’s brother
Peter Albin: American musician, guitarist and bassist. Founding member of Big Brother and the Holding Company
Dave Getz: American musician, teacher and visual artist. Drummer in Big Brother and the Holding Company
Jorma Kaukonen: American blues, folk, and rock guitarist. Founding member of Jefferson Airplane

THE COLLECTOR COPIES

Collector copies are numbered from 351 to 2,000, authenticated with the Janis Joplin estate stamp, and hand-signed by the contributors.

Limited to only 2,000 copies worldwide, each book in the Days & Summers edition is hand-numbered, estate-stamped with Janis Joplin’s signature, and hand-signed by her Big Brother bandmates Peter Albin and Dave Getz, Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen, and Janis’s siblings, Laura Joplin and Michael Joplin.

The large-format book (325mm x 305mm / 12¾” x 12″) is printed on heavyweight 200gsm paper with gilt and deckled page edging. Collector copies are quarter-bound in a navy, vegan leather, and light blue binding cloth blocked with gold, pink and blue foiling. Days & Summers is the name Janis Joplin gave to the scrapbook she kept during her high school years, and the book’s cover design is similarly inspired by Janis, featuring her own hand-drawn lettering and decorative linework.

All copies in the limited edition include a special 7″ single containing two exceptionally rare recordings: two blues tracks from The Typewriter Tape recorded in 1964 by Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen (‘Daddy Daddy Daddy’ by Janis Joplin, and the blues standard ‘Trouble In Mind’). Capturing Joplin at a pivotal moment, before joining Big Brother & the Holding Company, The Typewriter Tape has attained mythic status among bootleg recordings. Given the historic nature of the two tracks, the single is pressed on 180-gram audiophile vinyl.

The Collector signed book and vinyl record set is presented in a navy, cloth-bound slipcase.

  • Extras:
    7″ vinyl with two blues tracks from The Typewriter Tape recorded in 1964 in Santa Clara, California by Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen: ‘Daddy Daddy Daddy’ by Janis Joplin and ‘Trouble In Mind’. Foreword by Grace Slick and Afterword by Kris Kristofferson with a stamp of his signature.

JANIS JOPLIN SCRAPBOOK, 1966-68

Posted: June 17, 2020 in MUSIC
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Janis Joplin Scrapbook, 1966-68

Fifty-three years ago, on 17th and 18th June 1967, Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company played their now legendary set at the Monterey Pop Festival, a breathtaking appearance that set in motion the iconic singer’s extraordinary rise to fame.

Genesis Books are proud to announce, in partnership with the Janis Joplin Estate, the forthcoming official limited edition book, Janis Joplin Scrapbook 1966-68 (working title).

Shared for the first time, Janis Joplin’s handmade scrapbook from the years 1966-1968 reveals the singer’s personal record of her meteoric success and the fascinating period of history of which she was a part.

From Janis’s earliest intimate blues gigs in local coffee houses, to her first appearances with Big Brother and the Holding Company, to the band’s breakthrough performance at Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 – which made her a rock star overnight – Janis’s story is remarkable. Throughout it all, she collected posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records. In Janis’s scrapbook you can see the Port Arthur girl transform into a rock goddess, setting the world on fire with her talent.

In a strictly limited edition of just 2,000 estate-stamped copies, Janis’s scrapbook will be reproduced in facsimile alongside further pieces from her archive. Her memorabilia will be interspersed with quotes and stories from the people who really knew her during that period and beyond, from friends, family and bandmates, to musicians, writers and photographers.

Image may contain: one or more people, people dancing, people standing and text

Already a tremendous star, 1969 was a year of change for Janis Joplin. Her legendary performance at Woodstock Festival came just weeks before the release of her first solo album, “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!” Both that record and this live set, which is available on vinyl for the first time, pointed to the new, exciting direction her music would take and helped define an incredible moment in music history.

To celebrate 50 years since the Woodstock Festival , Legacy Recordings will release Janis Joplin’s full set from the iconic festival on vinyl for the first time.  Joplin had already had significant success by the time she performed there.  Her first albums had established her as one of the best in the psych-rock scene.  By 1969, she was changing directions with her first-ever solo effort, I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! which would arrive a few weeks after her performance.

Together, the album and the Woodstock set saw Joplin performing in full gear, but shifting toward soul and blues music, rather than the psychedelic fare that had brought her stardom.  Tracks like “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and her cover of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” are soul-stirrers on the studio album, and at Woodstock, she imbued them with even more passion and intensity.  Already a tremendous star, 1969 was a year of change for Janis Joplin. Her legendary performance at Woodstock came just weeks before the release of her first solo album, I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! Both that record and this live set, available on vinyl for the first time on Record Store Day 2019, pointed to the new, exciting direction her music would take and helped define an incredible moment in music history.

January 1, 1968 - Die amerikanische Sängerin Janis Joplin mit der Band Big Brother and the Holding Company, USA Ende 1960er Jahre. American singer Janis Joplin witth the band Big Brother and the Holding Company, USA end 1960s. Copyright: Roba/Roba-Archiv UnitedArchives03393 (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

Big Brother and the Holding Company were a band before the summer of 1967. They had gigs, fans and even a full-length record ready for release. But all that early history was eclipsed after they took the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in June for a pair of performances that transformed Janis Joplin& her bandmates. from San Francisco scenesters to cultural giants. Joplin herself would describe the weekend as “one of the highest points of my life.” The lonely and misunderstood young woman from Texas proudly wrapped herself in her newfound fame a substitute for the love she was denied during her lonely and painful adolescence.

Monterey was a gold rush for the recording industry, and major labels flocked to stake out their claim. For Big Brother, their trajectory would become the quintessential overnight success gone awry. Within a year, the searing spotlight trained on Joplin would cause the band to come unglued. But during its brief big-league run, Big Brother assembled their first and only true artistic statement for a global audience. Issued on August 12th, 1968, Cheap Thrills is undeniably a masterpiece of the psychedelic age, a set of top-shelf electric soul. Yet it also reflects the commodification of the fading hippie dream.

Presented as a document culled from wild, spontaneous San Francisco nights, it was actually crafted in a studio run by one of the largest record manufacturers on the planet. To say Cheap Thrills is inauthentic would be false, but there’s a premature melancholy to the production, as though it were a Gatsby-esque exercise in re-creating good times that had already passed. Joplin’s mournful version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” seems only to underscore the shift in mood from the Summer of Love to the Summer of Violence that greeted the album. A week after its release, police would beat up demonstrators at Chicago’s Democratic National Convention. A month later, Joplin and Big Brother parted ways for good.

The album was supposed to be called Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills, but Big Brother’s label nixed it. Even so, the rest of the record – produced by John Simon – defined the group with its vibrant blues-influenced rock ‘n’ roll. The breakout star was undoubtedly Joplin, one of the most dynamic singers of her generation who set the template for anyone standing behind a microphone. Just ask Robert Plant where he got part of his banshee wail.

Things kick off with the driving “Combination of the Two,” which boils over at times thanks to James Gurly’s blistering guitar. Joplin and guitarist Sam Andrew share vocals, but she ably steals the spotlight. The band’s celebrated cover of the Gershwins’ “Summertime” ranks as one of the finest takes on this often-covered standard. Joplin delivers a near-fragile performance while the swirling guitars provide a solid web surrounding. Gurly and Andrew’s fuzz-drenched solos in the middle of the song are electric-guitar poetry.

Side one ends with the band’s cover of Erma Franklin’s (Aretha’s sister) “Piece of My Heart,” which hit No. 12 and became the group’s signature song. Joplin’s soulful performance made her a star. “Turtle Blues,” on the other hand, is pure blues, with just acoustic guitar, piano and vocal steering it. The haunting rocker “Oh Sweet Mary” follows, slithering along with mighty fine guitar work anchoring one of the most blatantly psychedelic songs in Big Brother’s catalog.

It all leads up to the album’s tour de force, “Ball and Chain,” a highlight of the band’s live sets (including the career-making one at Monterey), Big Brother take on Big Mama Thornton’s song and turn it inside out, making it their own. Once again, vicious guitars weave in and out of Joplin’s fiery performance. The 10-second pause at the start of the song remains one of the most spine-chilling moments of the era.

Cheap Thrills – which wasn’t quite the live album it claimed to be, since studio recordings and overdubs make up a bulk of the tracks – was a huge hit, staying at No. 1 for eight weeks. Engineer Fred Catero remembered the sessions as being frustrating. “Janis always sounded good, take after take, But it was hard to get the band to play in tune and in time. They just weren’t very good musicians.” Even though they may not have been virtuosos, the members of Big Brother & the Holding Company gave Cheap Thrills a certain ragged glory. The album ended up being the band’s last album with Joplin, who left by the end of the year to launch a solo career.

Cheap Thrills is a showcase for the band at its best, stocked almost exclusively with its most beloved songs, including “Combination of the Two,” “Ball and Chain,” and “Piece of My Heart.” On the album’s 50th anniversary, here are 10 facts you might not know about its creation.

Joplin offered to sleep with Clive Davis to seal the deal on their CBS recording contract.
Clive Davis had just begun his tenure as the head of CBS Records when he fell hard and fast for Big Brother and the Holding Company following their performance at Monterey. He wanted to sign them immediately, and the fact that they were already committed to the independent Mainstream Records imprint was of little concern. After some legal wrangling, and the appointment of impresario Albert Grossman as the band’s manager, Davis sent Mainstream packing with a check for $200,000. It was an audacious move for the relatively green label chief — only a year earlier, fellow San Franciscans the Jefferson Airplane made headlines for scoring an RCA advance worth just $25,000.

Cheap Thrills was originally intended to be a live album.

Big Brother and the Holding Company’s self-titled studio debut, issued in August 1967 on Mainstream, was decidedly lackluster. Joplin herself even dubbed it “our shitty record” and it sold accordingly, peaking only at Number 60. For their first major-label appearance, it was felt that a live album would be a better showcase for Big Brother’s abilities. “They had a reputation for inspiring a level of excitement in their audience that was as much a part of their show as their performance,” John Simon, the album’s producer, said in 2015. “In order to capitalize on that excitement they were eager to record a live album.”

They rented a remote recording console and recorded two shows at Detroit’s Grande Theater beginning on March 1st, 1968. Unfortunately, they hit a series of snags. Off the bat, the ear-splitting volume of their live performances pushed the recording meters permanently into the red. What’s more, the audience response was effectively nonexistent. “They’d never heard a woman sound like that,” engineer Fred Catero said in Alice Echols’ Joplin bio Scars of Sweet Paradise. “Every time she’d finish a song, people were just, like, ‘Huh?’ There was no reaction.” Even more troubling for Simon, the band’s “avalanche of energy” couldn’t mask the “mistakes a-plenty” that he heard. The producer decided to move sessions to a formal recording facility, Columbia’s Studio B in New York, where bum notes, wrong chords or fluffed lyrics could be remedied with surgical precision. But retreating to the studio presented another problem, albeit one of the nonmusical variety. “Word had already spread and already a live recording of Big Brother and the Holding Company was enthusiastically expected,” Simon recalled. “I didn’t want their fans to be disappointed.” So instead, they endeavored to make a studio album that sounded live.

Some of the faux-audience background noises were recorded at Barney’s Beanery, where Joplin would have her last meal.

Re-creating the excitement of a swirling San Franciscan psychedelic odyssey in an airless and sterile Midtown Manhattan recording facility would pose a challenge. The fundamental methods of studio tracking ran counter to the way the band preferred to make music. “Everything’s fairly isolated,” bassist Peter Albin observed in Scars of Sweet Paradise. “You have headphones on. The vocalist is in a soundproof vocal chamber. The drummer is baffled like crazy. . . . It’s a very non-together way of recording.” In the hopes of improving the overall vibe, a stage was assembled in the live room, complete with lowered curtains, a spotlight and even the band’s PA system. To enhance the effect on record, Simon created tape loops of fake audience reactions, with studio secretaries, engineers and assorted members of the group’s entourage enlisted as the crowd. “We gave them tambourines and whistles and stuff,” Catero told Echols, “and said, ‘Can you stand out here and whenever you feel like reacting just whoop and holler, shake your tambourines and blow your whistles?’ ”

While the album credits claim that the “live material” was taped at Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, the sole concert recording — a nine-minute version of “Ball and Chain” with a new guitar solo tracked in the studio — was made at Graham’s other local stronghold, the Winterland Ballroom. “John [Simon] was good — he came up with a real concept for the album that worked,” drummer Dave Getz says in Echols’ book. “It created a picture for people who hadn’t been to the San Francisco ballrooms.” Even the intimate “Turtle Blues” was treated with ambient noise recorded at Barney’s Beanery, a bar on Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard that was one of Joplin’s favorite watering holes. She dined there on the night of October 3rd, 1970, just before heading back to the Landmark Hotel, where she would inject a fatal dose of heroin after midnight

Erma Franklin didn’t recognize Joplin’s version of her song “Piece of My Heart.”

Three of the seven tracks on Cheap Thrills were covers that had been, in Peter Albin’s words, “Big Brotherized.” They include a revamp of “Summertime” and a minor-key reimagining of Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain” stretched out ad infinitum. But chief among these is “Piece of My Heart,” a tune that would become the band’s first and only Top 20 hit.

The song had been written by producer and Bang! Records founder Bert Berns and his collaborator Jerry Ragovoy. Berns initially passed it to Van Morrison, then signed to the Bang! roster, but Morrison declined. Instead the track was offered to Erma Franklin, Aretha’s elder sister, who had all but retired from music after issuing a string of unsuccessful singles earlier in the decade. By 1967, she was working as an administrator for IBM when Berns coaxed her back with his new composition. Originally arranged as an off-kilter calypso, “Piece of My Heart” was ultimately given a strident soul treatment that sent it to Number 62 on the Billboard charts. A full-length album was planned for Franklin, but Berns’ fatal heart attack on December 30th, 1967, threw the label into turmoil, and the follow-up never materialized.

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The members of Big Brother and the Holding Company greatly admired “Piece of My Heart,” and came up with a psychedelicized version to fit their unique style. “We didn’t want to imitate Erma Franklin,” Albin later said. “Erma’s ‘Piece of My Heart’ had a delicacy and a sense of mystery that was just beyond us.” Big Brother’s rendition, with Joplin’s soulful wailing at the fore, would overshadow the original commercially, and become what many feel is the definitive version of the song. If having her song snatched bothered Franklin, she tried not to let it show in interviews. “To be honest, I never even recognized the song when I first heard Janis’ version on the car radio,” she told Blues & Soul in 1973. “Naturally, it would have been great to have gotten the exposure, airplay and sales that she got, but her version is so different from mine that I really don’t resent it too much.”

Clive Davis played Big Brother’s version of “Summertime” to Richard Rodgers. It didn’t go down too well.

Richard Rodgers dropped by Columbia’s New York headquarters one day in 1968 to have lunch with company bigwig Goddard Lieberson and discuss funding for his upcoming musicalAs the Broadway icon waited, Davis reverently approached and introduced himself. Over the course of their brief conversation, Davis invited Rodgers into his office to hear an advance tape of Big Brother’s version of “Summertime.” He believed the older man would appreciate a fresh take on the Porgy and Bess chestnut.

Rodgers took a seat and Davis pressed play. “He listened without expression,” Davis writes in his memoir. “When the song ended, he didn’t say anything, which unnerved me.” Fearing that “Summertime” was a little too close to Rodgers’ theatrical wheelhouse for an unbiased response, he changed tactics altogether. “I decided to play ‘Piece of My Heart’ for him. Now, that was a mistake.” Within 90 seconds, the composer of Oklahoma!, The Sound of MusicandThe King and I asked him to turn the tape off. “He told me that not only did he not understand what he was hearing, but he could not understand why anyone would like it,” Davis continued. “As for Janis’ singing, it was impossible for him to imagine why anyone would think she was talented.” By this point Rodgers had worked himself into something approaching a tizzy, apparently telling Davis, “If this means I have to change my writing, or that the only way to write a Broadway musical is to write rock songs, then my career is over.” A flustered and quite embarrassed Davis quickly dropped the issue, accepting that Rodgers “simply couldn’t hear the new sounds.”

The album almost included a brief jam called “Harry,” and a version of the national anthem.

On some early printings of the Cheap Thrills cover, the words “HARRY KRISHNA! (D. GETZ)” are faintly visible underneath “ART: R. CRUMB” in the speech bubble emanating from a man wearing a turban. John Simon’s initial mix of the album was slated to include this brief track before label execs intervened, fearing that it was too ragged. A version of “Happy Birthday” was also reportedly elbowed by Columbia brass, but it was Simon who put the kibosh on another arrangement of an old standard. Guitarist Sam Andrews tried to sell the producer on a run-through of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but the idea was quickly dismissed — much to his dismay. “A year or so later, Jimi Hendrix did an instrumental version,” he told author Ellis Amburn in Pearl: The Obsessions and Passions of Janis Joplin. “But how much more revolutionary would Janis’ singing of this song have been a year earlier?”

The original album cover featured the group naked in bed together.
“I slept with all of them,” Joplin once said of her Big Brother brethren. “They’re like my family — I’ve balled ’em all.” So, on paper, the initial cover concept depicting the band mates tucked up together must have seemed like the perfect choice. But when they arrived at Columbia creative director Bob Cato’s New York set, they found an embarrassment to hippie crash pads: a Madison Avenue mélange of pinks, frills and swirling Peter Max prints. Joplin took one look and shrieked, “Let’s trash it, boys!” And trash it they did, tearing down the offending accouterments and replacing them with detritus from around the studio to get that true Haight-Ashbury edge. “Then we took off all our clothes, jumped in bed, and smiled for the camera,” Sam Andrews told Amburn. “It was a very merry morning.” In the photos taken that day, a carton of Marlboros, Joplin’s fifth of Southern Comfort, and a candle (apparently) for cooking heroin are all visible among the nude bodies. It was all too much for the label executives, who decided to scrap the idea. A cartoon by Zap Comix cult hero R. Crumb, originally destined for the back of the jacket, was used instead.

The label rejected the band’s preferred title: Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills.
The original cover wasn’t the only thing that was too hot for the record company. Columbia also balked at the band’s initial choice at a title, Sex, Dope and Cheap ThrillsBorrowed from the infamous anti-drug propaganda film Reefer Madness, the phrase had taken on special significance for Andrews. “We looked on it as an antidote to being overly serious about our music and what the movement was doing,” he said to Amburn. “It was a way of saying, ‘Lighten up!’ — of being tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing.” In an era when both the Mamas and the Papas and the Rolling Stones were barred from showing a toilet seat on their album covers, the use of “sex“ and “dope” in a title was deemed over the line, and the phrase was shortened simply to Cheap Thrills.

The album sold 500,000 copies before it was even finished, resulting in a rush release and a marathon 36-hour mixing session

Two weeks of sessions in New York that March resulted in only three completed songs, so Simon and the band decamped to Columbia’s Los Angeles studio in April to finish the album. Recording continued there for nearly a month, but work was still far from complete. Complicating matters was the fact that Simon’s perfectionist streak was seriously at odds with the band’s laid-back style. “Here’s this dude from Princeton with perfect pitch telling them that they’re playing their guitars out of tune, and telling her that she’s singing out of tune, and making them do a million takes,” fellow producer Elliot Mazer recalled to Echols. It was probably a relief to all concerned when Simon had to depart in June to honor his commitment to produce the Band’s second album. Now it was Mazer’s job to take Cheap Thrills across the finish line, and a sizable part of his duty was fending off antsy Columbia execs who wanted the project wrapped ASAP. Mazer was still in the midst of “trying to figure out how to put the second side together” when he got a phone call from Clive Davis informing him that the album, which didn’t technically exist yet, had already been certified gold for shipping 500,000 advance units. “That’s the last thing I’d ever want to say to a band trying to finish a record!” Mazer told Amburn.

As the pressure mounted, Joplin and Sam Andrews spent a marathon 36-hour session with engineers to mix the final record. “A day and a half with no sleep and very little to eat,” Andrews recalled. But the grueling sessions and long hours were worth it: “We felt like we had something. We thought there was a good chance it would be well received.”

Joplin announced she was leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company just weeks after the album was issued.
The seeds of Joplin’s departure from Big Brother were sown before the band ever set foot in the studio to record Cheap Thrills. Albert Grossman and the rest of the new management team made their intent clear with press kits in which the guys in the group were effectively phantoms. Concert billings suddenly became “Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company,” and Grossman kept turning up the heat behind the band’s back. “The first thing Albert told her was to get rid of Big Brother,” says musician and Joplin associate Nick Gravenites in Pearl. “He came at her with a record deal and said, ‘I can get you a quarter of a million dollars, but it’s strictly for you. The deal doesn’t include Big Brother. Think it over.’ ”

Joplin also faced mounting pressure from outside the band’s circle as 1968 progressed. “Once we left warm and cozy San Francisco, the critics attacked Big Brother because we were very limited musically,” Getz admitted to Echols. “Ultimately, that’s what split up the band.” The Los Angeles Free Press insisted that Joplin was “too full of soul for the Holding Company partners,” and Rolling Stone called the band’s Boston gig “messy and a general musical disgrace.” Joplin herself tried to laugh it off, freely admitting that they were “lousy musicians” in interviews but proclaiming that they were like family. Yet even she knew that in order to progress toward the horn-based soul sounds favored by her heroes like Etta James and Otis Redding, she had to go her own way. In mid-September, weeks after the release of Cheap Thrills, Grossman issued a press release announcing her “amicable” split with Big Brother and the Holding Company. They played their last show together on December 1st, 1968, in San Francisco. “It was a very sad thing, man,” Joplin told Rolling Stone’s David Dalton in 1970. “I love those guys more than anybody else in the whole world, they know that. But if I had any serious idea of myself as a musician, I had to leave.”

Big Brother and the Holding Company
  • Janis Joplin – vocals
  • Sam Andrew – lead guitar, bass, vocals
  • James Gurley – guitar
  • Peter Albin – bass, guitar
  • Dave Getz – drums

Cheap Thrills was released in the summer of 1968, one year after their debut album, and reached number one on the Billboard charts in its eighth week in October. It kept the top spot for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks, while the single “Piece of My Heart” also became a huge hit. By the end of the year, it was the most successful album of 1968, having sold nearly a million copies. The 1999 re-release of Cheap Thrills features the outtakes “Flower in the Sun” and “Roadblock” as well as live performances of “Magic of Love” and “Catch Me Daddy” as bonus material.

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With Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin performed the song at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 to an enthusiastic audience and critical reception. The first performance on June 17th was not filmed, so the band was persuaded to perform the song again on the next day. This shorter version (without James Gurley’s extended guitar solo) was released in the 1968 film Monterey Pop, while the longer June 17th version was released in 1995 on the Joplin compilation “18 Essential Songs”.

Janis Joplin’s second and final solo classic album “Pearl” became the huge album in the US on February. 27th, 1971. The record was released posthumously released on January. 11th 1971.  It was the final album with her direct participation, and the only Joplin album recorded with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, her final touring unit.

“Pearl” stayed in the top spot for 9 weeks. The album has a more polished feel than the albums she recorded with Big Brother and The Holding Company and the Kozmic Blues Band due to the expertise of the producer Paul A Rothchild and her new backing musicians. Rothchild was best known as the recording studio producer of The Doors, and worked well with Joplin, calling her a producer’s dream. Together they were able to craft an album that showcased her extraordinary vocal talents.

No one can go through Janis Joplin’s discography without listening to “Me and Bobby McGee” at least twice. Janis Joplin and her posthumously released hit Me and Bobby McGee. Written by country singer Kris Kristofferson the country-blues single reached the No. 1 spot in the U.S. singles charts as well as Joplin’s album “Pearl” . This song also made it to the history books as being the second single to hit No. 1 in chart history after the artist had passed away. The recording sessions, starting in early September, ended with Joplin’s untimely death on October 4th, 1970. Her final session, which took place on Thursday, October 1st after a break of several days, yielded the acapella “Mercedes Benz.” It was the last song she recorded before her death

Another precious gem from her album “Pearl”, “Cry Baby” is a heart wrenching song especially captivated by the soul Janis’ voice brings. The opening wail to the track is just every emotion poured out into a performance. It also teaches about forgiveness with Janis singing for her man to come back home even though she’s been hurt by him, she’ll forgive him and believe that things will work out in the end. Originally recorded by Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters, Janis again, covered it in 1970 and made it her own by putting her own signature blues-rock spin to the song. The song became a usual song in Joplin’s repertoire and it was released as a single posthumously following her sudden tragic death in 1971.

Capturing the life, career, persona and phenomenon that was Janis Joplin in the space of a less-than-two-hours-long documentary is a daunting task. Amy Berg makes a crucially important decision in Janis: Little Girl Blue, opting to let the performances speak for themselves. There’s not a lot of talking head analysis of Janis’ music; Berg instead gives us a few well-chosen, extended clips of that otherworldly voice in action (as well as a good many selections backgrounded in the mix). Berg also focuses on Janis’ inner life, and boy, does that pay off. With the full cooperation of the estate and interviews with many of Janis’ intimates, including her two siblings, the marvelous Dick Cavett, and the one man with whom, in another universe, she surely found lifelong happiness, Berg is able to dig deep into who Janis actually was behind the raucous stage persona. Most effective of all is Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power), reading from Janis’ diaries and letters with the simple delivery of a born performer. It’s as if Janis is narrating her own life story, and it’s pure magic

Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 — October 4, 1970) was an American singer and songwriter from Port Arthur, Texas. As a youth Joplin was ridiculed by her fellow students due to her unconventional appearance and personal beliefs. She later sang about her experience at school through her song “Ego Rock”. Early in her life, Joplin cultivated a rebellious and unconventional lifestyle, becoming a beatnik poet. She began her singing career as a folk and blues singer in San Francisco, playing clubs and bars with her guitar and auto-harp.

Janis Joplin first rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as a solo artist with her more soulful and bluesy backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band. She was one of the more popular acts at the Monterey Pop Festival and later became one of the major attractions to the Woodstock festival and the Festival Express train tour.

Janis Joplin only charted five singles in her life but her hits and other popular songs from throughout her short four year career include “Down On Me”, “Bye, Bye Baby”, “Coo Coo”, “Summertime”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Turtle Blues”, “Ball ‘n’ Chain”, “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)”, “Maybe”, “To Love Somebody”, “Kozmic Blues”, “Work Me, Lord”, “Move Over”, “Cry Baby”, “A Woman Left Lonely” “Get It While You Can”, “My Baby”, “Trust Me”, “Mercedes Benz”, “One Night Stand”, “Raise Your Hand” and her only number one hit, “Me and Bobby McGee”.

Joplin was well known for her performing abilities and her fans referred to her stage presence as electric. At the height of her career, she was known as “The Queen of Rock and Roll” as well as “The Queen of Psychedelic Soul” and became known as Pearl amongst her friends. She was also a painter, dancer and music arranger.

JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE is the new Janis Joplin documentary that explores the life and music of the psychedelic queen of the blues. Director Amy Berg shares the film with clips and the trailer, discusses Janis on the Dick Cavett show, and also details her collaboration with Cat Power on the film. The sexual and social impact of Joplin, and the progression of the film from early stages to its premiere is all explored, and we also revisit Berg’s work PROPHET’S PREY, with Ondi Timoner on BYOD.

Oscar-nominated documentarian Amy Berg examines the meteoric rise and untimely fall of one of the most revered and iconic rock ‘n’ roll singers of all time: Janis Joplin. Joplin’s life story is revealed for the first time on film through electrifying archival footage, revealing interviews with friends and family and rare personal letters, presenting an intimate and insightful portrait of a bright, complicated artist who changed music forever.
Amy Berg is a critically acclaimed, Emmy-award winning and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a DGA Award (Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary) for her documentary DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2006). She went on to direct WEST OF MEMPHIS, a documentary about the failure of the justice system in the West Memphis Three case. She worked in collaboration with producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. The film premiered to rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was BAFTA nominated and won the WGA Documentary Screenplay Award. Sony Pictures Classics released the film in Fall 2012.
Amy completed her first narrative feature, EVERY SECRET THING, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014 and was released theatrically in May 2015. Her doc, Prophet’s Prey, which was made in association with Showtime and Imagine Entertainment will open in theatres this fall. She is currently in production on several films at her company, Disarming Films, and will be premiering her project about music legend Janis Joplin at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals this September. Amy’s company, Disarming Films, writes and produces long-form documentaries focusing on social justice.

 

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Me and Bobby McGee turned into Joplin’s signature song. The song was on her last album Pearl. this was a slightly different vocal for Janis. There is more control in her voice in this one. The producer Paul A. Rothchild was working with Janis to use her voice more efficiently so she could continue to sing later on in her career. Unfortunately, she never got a chance.

This was Janis Joplin’s only top ten hit although her songs are still played today.

This was released after Joplin died of a heroin overdose. Her death gave the album a lot of attention, and Pearl went to #1 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1971. It was the second song to hit #1 in the US after the artist had died…”Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding was the first.

The song was written by Kris Kristofferson: “I had just gone to work for Combine Music. Fred Foster, the owner, called me and said, ‘I’ve got a title for you: ‘Me and Bobbie McKee,’ and I thought he said ‘McGee.’ I thought there was no way I could ever write that, and it took me months hiding from him because I can’t write on assignment. But it must have stuck in the back of my head. One day I was driving between Morgan City and New Orleans. It was raining and the windshield wipers were going. I took an old experience with another girl in another country. I had it finished by the time I got to Nashville.” 

If this song was good enough for Janis it’s good enough for us! ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ is an American classic, originally performed by Roger Miller and later covered by Janis Joplin in 1970, a few days before her death. October 4, 1970 (aged 27) in Hollywood, California, Unfortunately, the song she’s best known for is one that we never got to see her perform live. Lucky for us though, Janis Joplin’s rendition of ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ was included on her 1971 posthumous release, “Pearl”.

This was written by Kris Kristofferson, who has written hundreds of songs for a wide variety of artists. Kristofferson would become a successful solo artist and appear in several movies, but it was Janis Joplin’s hit cover of this song that brought his career to the next level. “‘Bobby McGee’ was the song that made the difference for me,” he told Performing Songwriter in 2015. “Every time I sing it, I still think of Janis.”

The founder of Kristofferson’s record label, Fred Foster, rang him just as the struggling musician was about to leave Nashville for his helicopter pilot sideline job. He said that he had a song title for the songwriter – “Me And Bobby McKee.” Kristofferson recalled in Mojo magazine March 2008 that his label boss suggested: “‘You could make this thing about them traveling around, the hook is that he turns out to be a she.'”

Kristofferson was not sure at first. “I hid from Fred for a while but I was trying to write that song all the time I was flying around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I had the rhythm of a Mickey Newbury song going in the back of my mind, ‘Why You Been Gone So Long,’ and I developed this story of these guys who went around the country kind of like Anthony Quinn and Giuletta Masina in (Fellini’s) La Strada. At one point, like he did, he drove off and left her there. That was ‘Somewhere near Salinas, I let her slip away.’ Later in the film he (Quinn) hears a woman hanging out her clothes, singing the melody she (Masina) used to play on the trombone, and she told him, ‘Oh, she died.’ So he goes out, gets drunk, gets into a fight in a bar and ends up on the beach, howling at the stars. And that was where ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ came from, because he was free from her, and I guess he would have traded all his tomorrows for another day with her.”

The song’s final defining image came to Kristofferson as he was driving in heavy rain to the airport for the flight home. “I went, ‘With them windshield wipers slapping time and Bobby clapping hands we finally sang up every song the driver knew.’ And that was it.”

Fred Foster used a secretary’s name as inspiration for the title. Her name was actually Bobbi McKee. By naming the character in the song “Bobby,” it made sure a female singer could sing it without changing the name, since “Bobby” could refer to a man or woman. 

This was first recorded in 1969 by a country singer named Roger Miller, who is known for his hit “King Of The Road.”

Kris Kristofferson released this in 1970 on his first album, Kristofferson. A year later, when it became a hit for Joplin, Kristofferson’s album was re-released as Me And Bobby McGee to take advantage of the song’s new popularity.

The lyrics tell the story of two young lovers who travel together, but break up so they can discover the world on their own. The characters in the song were a lot like Joplin, who was known as a free spirit.

In the March 2006 issue of Esquire magazine, Kristofferson was asked where he was when he came up with the line, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” His reply: “I was working the Gulf of Mexico on oil rigs, flying helicopters. I’d lost my family to my years of failing as a songwriter. All I had were bills, child support, and grief. And I was about to get fired for not letting 24 hours go between the throttle and the bottle. It looked like I’d trashed my act. But there was something liberating about it. By not having to live up to people’s expectations, I was somehow free.”

The line, “I pulled my Harpoon from my dirty red bandana” can be interpreted two ways. The more sanitized version considers the “Harpoon” as a slang word for harmonica. The second interpretation considers it a hypodermic needle, since a bandana was often used to tie off the arm before an addict shot up. 

The version on Joplin’s 1995 Greatest Hits album 18 Essential Songs contains an alternate version recorded as a demo.

Jerry Lee Lewis covered this in more of a country style several months after Joplin’s version was released. His version hit #40 in the US.

This was Joplin’s only Top 10 hit. She was a very influential and well-known singer, but her bluesy sound kept most of her songs off the pop charts.

The same year Joplin’s version was issued, Kris Kristofferson released The Silver Tongued Devil and I, which was a successful album and finally solidified his place as a singer/songwriter.

Kristofferson performed an acoustic version of this song when Joplin was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013. Kristofferson, who had a brief affair with Joplin, recalled hearing her rendition on the day of her death. He explained to Rolling Stone magazine: “Her producer gave me the record and it was pretty hard to listen to. I was listening to it at my publisher’s office where we used to hang out, there was nobody there and I was playing it over and over again just so I could hear it without breaking up.” >>

The B-side of the single was a song called “Half Moon,” which also appeared on the Pearl album. That song was written by John Hall and his wife Johanna. It was the first song they wrote together, and a huge break for the couple, who were able to buy a buy a house and a sailboat with the royalties. John Hall got a lot of credibility in the rock realm from co-writing it, and his career took off. A few years later, he formed the group Orleans, which had hits with two songs he wrote: “Still The One” and “Dance With Me.”

Did you know…That this was Janis Joplin’s only top 10 hit? The greatest white female rock singer of the 1960s, Janis Joplin was also a great blues singer, making her material her own with her wailing, raspy, supercharged emotional delivery.

Janis Joplin’s signature bluesy style always kept her off of the pop charts. After her death in October 1970, ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ immediately shot to the #1 spot on U.S. music charts!.

Janis Joplin charted five singles, and other popular songs from her four-year career include “Down On Me”, “Bye, Bye Baby”, “Coo Coo”, “Summertime”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Turtle Blues”, “Ball ‘n’ Chain”, “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)”, “Maybe”, “To Love Somebody”, “Kozmic Blues”, “Work Me, Lord”, “Move Over”, “Cry Baby”, “A Woman Left Lonely”, “Get It While You Can”, “My Baby”, “Trust Me”, “Mercedes Benz”, “One Night Stand”, “Raise Your Hand” and her only number one hit, “Me and Bobby McGee”.

Joplin was well-known for her performing abilities, and her fans referred to her stage presence as “electric”. At the height of her career, she was known as “The Queen of Rock and Roll” as well as “The Queen of Psychedelic Soul”, and became known as Pearl amongst her friends. She was also a painter, dancer and music arranger.

Ever the trendsetter even in death, this feat made hers the second ever song to reach the #1 spot after the artist died. While it’s sad that her talent wasn’t fully realized while she was still here to enjoy it, I think that her death is what made people really sit up and pay attention to this lonely girl from Port Arthur, Texas with a big voice and an even bigger heart!