Tuneage Tutelage - JANIS JOPLIN

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, September 24, 2007

Remember to visit MO'S
for the Manic Monday submissions...

You know...Janis was a singer
but she needed someone with a drum KIT in her band!
(yeah we did steal it MO!)

We also just found out that SKITTLES did an interview with the good Doc Blogstein which includes a real picture of the host of the RADIO HAPPY HOUR..

You can find it

She came out of the small town of Port Arthur, Texas on January 19, 1943 at St. Mary’s Hospital; Janis Lyn Joplin was the eldest daughter of Seth Ward Joplin and Dorothy Bonita East.

Her dad worked for Texaco and mom was the registrar at a local business college and Janis had two younger siblings; Michael and Laura. Janis had a knack for being a painter which is credited back to her mom and dad.

Joplin attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur from 1957 – 1960. As would be the case in her adult years, Janis was different from most of the kids in high school and was therefore shunned until she met a football player named Grant Lyons.

Lyons could probably be credited with giving us this remarkable artist, as it was he who played Janis her first bit of the blues; an old Leadbelly record. From that point on Janis began listening to blues musicians such as Bessie Smith, Odetta, and Big Mama Thornton and singing in the local choir.

"I got treated very badly in Texas. They don't treat beatniks too good in Texas. Port Arthur people thought I was a beatnik,
though they'd never seen one and neither had I." - JANIS

After high school, Janis attended the University of Texas in Austin and lived in a building nicknamed “The Ghetto” at 2812 ½ Nueces Street. In 1962 she was the subject of an article in the campus newspaper entitled “She Dares To Be Different”. Fashioning herself after her blues heroines, Janis sang at the local coffee houses.

In 1963 Janis headed off to North Beach and then Haight Asbury, California continuing to play the coffee houses singing the blues and folk music.

On June 25, 1964 Janis was at the home of Jorma Kaukonen (who two years later would help found The Jefferson Airplane), and they recorded a group of songs including “Kansas City Blues” and “Hesitation Blues”.

These songs were recorded on a non-stereo reel-to-reel tape machine with Jorma’s wife Margareta playing the typewriter as a percussion instrument. These songs found their way onto a bootleg album entitled “The TypewriterTape” a number of years later.

"Hesitation Blues"
Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton and Art Gillham

"Onstage, I make love to 25,000 people - then I go home alone." - JANIS

At this time Janis’ drug use began to increase, with speed and heroin becoming more prevalent in her life. She had also acquired a taste for Southern Comfort which became synonymous with Janis throughout her life.

A few months after the session with Jorma, her friends in California began to get very concerned as Janis was down to 88 pounds and doing far too many drugs. They bought her a bus ticket back home and in April of 1965 Janis was back in Port Arthur, TX. Her lifestyle changed as she sobered up and enrolled at Lamar University in nearby Beaumont, TX.

During this time Janis continued to correspond with a man she knew back in California. He was a methadrine dealer and he had asked Janis to marry him a number of times. A one point he showed up at the Joplin home, dressed in a suit and tie and asked Janis’ father for her hand in marriage.

Almost immediately after that, he broke off all contact with Janis and she never saw him again. Was this the catalyst to the heartbreak in the music Janis sang afterward? It is speculation, but it seems to make sense.

"People, whether they know it or not, like their blues singer’s miserable.
They like their blues singers to die afterwards.

Janis began to drive to Austin and perform at clubs there, just she and her guitar. This continued her love for music and when an old Texas friend, Chet Helms, called her from San Francisco and offered her a job singing with a band he managed, she headed back to there.

Chet Helms also ran a company called “Family Dog Productions" which along with “Bill Graham Productions” became the two largest promotion companies of the time.

The band he managed was named Big Brother & The Holding Company and on June 10, 1964 the band performed at The Avalon in San Francisco for the first time.

In August of 1966 the band signed with “Mainstream Records” and recorded their first album. The singles off the album made nary a squeak and the album was not released at that time.

On June 18, 1967 Big Brother (pictured on the left) performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and everything changed. The performance was hailed as a career changer for Big Brother, but especially for Janis.

She became an international star almost overnight – similar to another performer who made one of his first appearances at the festival that same year. His name? Jimi Hendrix.

If you ever see the documentary on this festival, you will see a shot of Mama Cass in the audience during Janis’ performance and she is mouthing the words, “Wow, that’s really heavy”

In November of 1967 the band left the management of Chet Helms and began working with noted manager Albert Grossman (most famous for his client; Bob Dylan) and he began to book venues for the band outside of San Francisco and California, where they had only performed thus far.

An East Coast tour began in Philadelphia on February 16, 1968 and then headed to the Anderson Theatre in NYC for a show the next day. On the last day of their East Coast swing, April 7, 1968, the band performed at the “Wake For Martin Luther King Jr.” concert in NY along with Jimi, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop.

"I was the same chick, because I've been her forever, and I know her, and she ain't no star: she's lonely, or she's good at something. I have to get undressed after the show, my clothes are ruined, my heels are run through, my underwear is ripped, my body's strained from my clothes, my hair's stringy, I got a headache and I got to go home, and I'm lonely, and my clothes are all fucked up, my shoes have come apart, and I'm pleading with my road manager to please give me a ride home, please, please, just so I can take these fuckin' clothes off, and that ain't no star, man, that’s just a person." - JANIS

Between April and June Big Brother spent time between LA and NYC recording the album Cheap Thrills which was released in August and debuted as the #1 Album on the Billboard Charts, selling 1,000,000 copies in the first month alone.

It was a collection of studio and live performances and cover artwork by the famed Robert Crumb. The breakthrough hit from the album was, of course, the incomparable “Piece Of My Heart”.

"Piece of My Heart"
Bert Berns, Jerry Ragovoy

The band made another East Coast swing between July-August 1968 which included a performance at the Newport Jazz Festival. The picture on the left was taken during the Festival.

Upon returning to San Francisco Janis announced she would be leaving Big Brother at the end of the year and made her final performance with this lineup on December 1, 1968 at a Family Dog benefit concert.

Janis then formed a band called the Kosmic Blues Band which was modeled after the classic soul revue bands. Their first performance signaled their intent on their playing soul music as it was at the Stax-Volt Christmas Show in Memphis, TN on December 21, 1968.

Kosmic Blues Band:
The band, including a complete horn section, began touring non-stop throughout North America and Europe throughout 1969. In September 1969 I Got Dem Ol’ Kosmic Blues Again Mama was released and certified Gold, but never had the success of “Cheap Thrills”.

It included the bluesy, tough sounding song "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder"

The band was short-lived however and played their final gig with Janis at Madison Square Garden in NYC on December 21, 1969 exactly a year from their first performance.

"I read a story about some old opera singer once, and when a guy asked her to marry him, she took him backstage after she had sung a real triumph, with all the people calling for her, asked, 'Do you think you could give me that?' That story hit me right, man. I know no guy ever made me feel as good as an audience. I'm really far into this now, really committed. Like, I don't think I'd go off the road for long now, for life with a guy no matter how good. Yeah, it's the truth. Scary thing to say though, isn't it?" - JANIS

In August 1969, Janis performed at the legendary Woodstock Festival. Depending upon who you speak with or read, she was brilliant, or she was below par that weekend.

For 25 years after Woodstock, the only portion of her performance there that was available commercially -- in either sound or picture -- was a spontaneous dance she did with her band's African-American tenor saxophone player, Cornelius "Snooky" Flowers, during an instrumental break. It is part of the 1975 theatrically released documentary Janis.

The feature film, Woodstock includes several seconds of Janis walking with her friend Peggy Caserta to the festival site in broad daylight hours before she went on stage, but this film omitted her entire performance, even the dance with Flowers.

The 25th anniversary director's cut of Woodstock includes just one of her selections from the concert: "Work Me, Lord".

In February of 1970, Janis traveled to Brazil with her friend Linda Gravenites and got clean and sober. Gravenities had designed all of Janis’ stage costumes since 1966 and led a clean and sober lifestyle.

While there Janis met David Niehaus an American schoolteacher who was traveling the world at the time. He also led a clean lifestyle and it appeared Janis had kicked her habit.

Upon returning home, Janis formed a band with a group of drug-free Canadians who had no association with her San Francisco crowd and the Full Tilt Boogie Band came into existence.

"I gotta go on doin' it the way I see it...I got no choice but to take it like I see it. I'm here to have a party while I'm on this earth...I'm gettin' it now, today. I don't even know where I'm gonna be twenty years from now, so I'm just gonna keep on rockin', cause if I start saving up bits and pieces of me...man, there ain't gonna be nothing left for Janis." - JANIS

In late June 1970, Janis and the band joined the Grateful Dead and The Band on a tour of Canada called the Festival Express.

During this tour Janis began designing her own costumes. Linda Gravenites and she split company after returning from Brazil for no known reason and once again Janis took on the ‘tough first lady of rock and roll’ mantle and did not replace her, instead deciding to ‘rebuild her image’.

Feathers in her hair, multi-colored outfits, downplaying her cleavage and sexuality became the norm. Around this time she also requested that her band and entourage begin to call her “Pearl” though she did not want the press to report the nickname.

Janis thought differently then many of the other stars of the time who encouraged free-concerts. In an article in Newsweek in 1970, Janis was quoted as saying; 'I don't believe in gate-crashing. The people aren't up there when I'm sweating on a stage at a festival, breaking my ass. You can get the money, man. Sell your old lady, sell your dope. Look at me, man, I'm selling my heart.'

She was also very against the common practice at Dead shows to dose people with LSD without their knowledge. In 1970, she said in the presence of Myra Friedman, her long-time publicist, that Deadheads who did that were comparable to the Chicago police officers who had beaten hippies on the head at the 1968 Democratic Convention. A pretty heavy statement for the times.

Janis had a nasty drug and alcohol habit but was never late or missed a show, always telling people she believed in the American work ethic.

In 1970 Janis and the band went into the studio to record a new album. On October 1, 1970, Janis completed the song “Mercedes Benz” in one take and then recorded a birthday greeting for John Lennon, the Dale Evans song “Happy Trails”. It may have been prophetic.

"Mercedes Benz"
Janis Joplin & Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth

Two days later, Saturday October 3rd, Janis visited the Sunset Sound Studios to listen to the instrumental track for “Buried Alive In The Blues” so she could lay down the vocals the next day. That night at the studio she had a long angry conversation with her boyfriend Seth on the phone, which was overheard by the members of the band. All say she was in great spirits before and even after the phone call when they all went out for Chinese food.

According to many sources, here is what happened next. Her boyfriend Seth was at Janis’ home in Marin County playing strip poker with a waitress he had met that day. This caused him to miss the date with Janis.

Sometime Saturday Janis bought heroin from a known dealer. She was staying at the Landmark, which was known to draw drug users as its guests. That afternoon she told the front desk to not put any calls through to her room.

It seems that Janis ended up making her way to Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood and drank for a while there.

The next day when she had not shown back up at the studio, Full Tilt’s road manager drove to The Landmark and found Janis dead on the floor. It would seem that the dealer’s normal ‘cutter’ (the person responsible for taking pure heroin and mixing it with a substance to lessen its strength) was not available and whoever cut this batch lef it much too pure. There were other deaths in Los Angeles around that time that were linked back to this dealer and that batch.

A service only attended by Janis’ parents and her aunt Mimi was held at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Mortuary in LA and then her ashes were scattered by plane into the Pacific Ocean and along Stinson Beach in Marin County.

Two months before her death, Janis provided a gravestone for her idol, Bessie Smith at Philadelphia’s Mount Lawn Cemetery.

In 1979 Bette Midler stared in and earns an Academy Award nomination for “The Rose”, a story loosely based on Janis’ life.

Janis…along with Grace Slick of The Jefferson Airplane opened doors to women in rock. The genre was dominated by men until these two remarkable women came along and changed the face of the music.

Music journalist Ellen Wills asserted that “Joplin belonged to that select group of pop figures who mattered as much for themselves as for their music. Among American rock performers, she was second only to Bob Dylan in importance as a creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation’s mythology.”

Rock critic Lillian Roxon summed up her influence with these words: “[Janis Joplin] perfectly expressed the feelings and yearnings of the girls of the electric generation – to be all woman, yet equal with men; to be free, yet a slave to real love; to [reject] every outdated convention, and yet get back to the basics of life.”

Janis's albums have gone gold, platinum, and triple-platinum. Her Greatest Hits album still appears on the charts in Billboard. Several new releases have followed her death, with wide acclaim for her boxed set, Janis.

She was the subject of a 1973 feature documentary, "Janis" and numerous TV documentaries, the most notable being VH-1's Legends program. She is currently the subject of two hotly contested biographical movie projects.

Not recognized by her hometown during her life, she was remembered much later. In 1988, her life and achievements were showcased and recognized in Port Arthur, Texas by the dedication of the Janis Joplin Memorial, with an original bronze, multi-image sculpture of Joplin by Douglas Clark.

Joplin was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

"I hope you're going to edit this stuff. I don't want to sound like a
senile, self-pitying chick babbling on and on about her days of glory." - JANIS

So much information on Ms. Joplin...we hope we gave you a little insight into this remarkable woman and her music...


George Gershwin DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin
Janis just tears our heart out with this one.

"Ball And Chain"
Big Mama Thornton

This is Janis on stage with The Grateful Dead from a bootleg tape we own.
We were given this years ago and it was never labeled.
Our guess is this came from the Festival Express Tour through Canada.
On "Scarlett Begonia's" Janis only sings the chorus, but we included it for historical perspective.

Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia


Janis Joplin & Jorma Kaukonen
• The Typewriter Tape (1964, bootleg recording)

Big Brother and the Holding Company
• Big Brother & the Holding Company (1967, Mainstream Records)
• Big Brother & the Holding Company (1967?, Columbia) Contains 2 extra single tracks.
• Big Brother & the Holding Company (1967, CD 1999 Columbia Legacy CK66425) Contains 2 extra single tracks.
• Cheap Thrills (1968, Columbia)
• Cheap Thrills (1968, CD 1999 Legacy CK65784) Contains 4 extra tracks.
• Live at Winterland '68 (1998, Columbia Legacy)

Kozmic Blues Band
• I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969, Columbia)
• I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969, CD 1999 Legacy CK65785) Contains 3 extra tracks.

Full Tilt Boogie
• Pearl (posthumous 1971, Columbia)
• Pearl (posthumous 1971, CD unknown date Columbia CD64188)
• Pearl (posthumous 1971, CD 1999 Legacy CK65786) Contains 4 extra tracks.
• Pearl (posthumous 1971, 2CD 2005 Legacy COL 515134 2) CD1 contains 6 other extra tracks, CD2 contains a full selection from The Festival Express Tour, from all 3 venues.

Big Brother & the Holding Company / Full Tilt Boogie
• In Concert (1972, Legacy CK65786)

Later collections
• Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits (1973, Columbia)
• Janis (2 discs 1975, Columbia Legacy)
• Anthology (1980)
• Farewell Song (1983)
• Cheaper Thrills (1984)
• Janis (3 discs 1993, Columbia Legacy)
• 18 Essential Songs (1995, Columbia Legacy)
• The Collection (1995)
• Live at Woodstock: August 19, 1969 (1999)
• Box of Pearls (1999, Sony Legacy)
• Super Hits (2000)
• Love, Janis (2001)

Seduce my mind and you can have my body,
Find my soul and I'm yours forever.
~ by Anonymous ~

21 Of Your Sparks


    My alltime favorite musician, EVAAAAA!!!

  2. Julie Says:
  3. Kyra didn't like you post at all did she?

    Excellent job my dear! Such a shame....about her death.

  4. Travis Cody Says:
  5. Summertime is my second favorite from Janis, right behind her version of Natural Woman.

    Gone too soon...much too soon.

  6. katherine. Says:
  7. this was way cool Bond. Sometimes I skim thru the tuneage...this one I read every word.

    You may know that this weekend is the 50th onterey Jazz Festival... lots of great musicians in town this past week... (Santa Cruz is the north point of the Monterey Bay)

    and I'm gonna use that last quote.

  8. I'll come back and read and listen tomorrow when I'm resting in bed with the kids at school, but just wanted you to know I was here. I feel as if I've been MIA lately.


  9. hi bond, this was hard for me to read as her drug problem is so hard to read about. the disease of addiction is insidious and here is a prime example of it's work. i did learn more about her than i knew though and i thank you for the post.

    now on a lighter note, it's almost time for our CRUISE bond. just so you know! ha ha ha ha ha

    smiles, bee

  10. Maggie Moo Says:
  11. LOVE me some Janis! Fantastic post today Bond-great job!

  12. Schmoop Says:
  13. When Faith Hill re-did "Piece of My Heart", I nearly slit my wrists. Cheers!!

  14. what bee said, so much to offer, so little time, drugs kill people.

  15. AtriaBooks Says:
  16. I prefer Phil's remake of "Mercedes Benz" from last week's show.

  17. Liz Hill Says:
  18. I really enjoyed this one Bondbaby--the tunes are awesome but this was really interesting and fun to read.


  19. Tug Says:
  20. Wow.


    I love Janis.

  21. KYRA: How do you really feel? LOL

    JULIE: TY and I think maybe she liked it a little bit...

    TRAVIS: I love me Summertime...And yes...way too soon

    KATHERINE: I did know it was this week, and really want to get out there for it one year soon...Use the quote...she won't mind...I thought it was a fitting one to end the tuneage

    SONGBIRD: Always a seat for you

    BEE: Well, yes that was a problem for her, but I was hoping to make that a small part of her unfortunately short life...

    MAGS: Glad you enjoyed

    MATT-MAN: I might have actually attempted it...LOL ... Thanks dude

    SARGE: They have and can, no doubt...sad story that it did here

    DOC: lol that is sacrilege Sir

    TURNBABY: Glad you enjoyed Smooch

    TUG: TY my friend...

  22. Oh Bond what an excellent post! You know I love me some Pearl. And I am with you, Summertime is hands down my favorite Janis song, but I have a great deal of affection for Mercedez Benz. It was a lullaby for me when I was a kid.

    Oh and I know you will appreciate this one, my hippie parents were, of course, in SF and Dad got stone with most of airplane, including Jorma. Prolly dropped too but he is not fessing up to it :P

  23. Twyla Says:
  24. I've always loved Janis Joplin's music, so thanks for the history lesson. Love the music. It's a shame that the great ones always die young.

  25. Dr. A Says:
  26. Joplin - Great music and great post. I learned some stuff I didn't know before.

    Hope to hear you on the Blogstein show Tuesday night.

  27. Unknown Says:
  28. Awesome, Vinny, just awesome. I´ll bookmark this one, too - my parents will love it as well. I guess my love for Janis is genetical =)
    Thank you!

  29. Mimi Lenox Says:
  30. I learned a lot in this post, Vin. She was a tortured soul and a brilliant artist. Such a waste. Thanks for sharing her legacy although it is understandably tragic and hard to read.

  31. STARR: I need to party with dad... no doubt...LOL
    Glad you enjoyed my friend...

    TWYLA: Glad you enjoyed and yes they tend to....

    DR. A: Always glad when I can give a bit og knowledge...I will be on tomorrow

    SANNI: Another set of cool parents...WOOOOOO

    MIMI: Makes me smile that you learned my friend...She was special in her short time

  32. Peg Says:
  33. Cool Tutelage, my friend! I had no idea that she grew up in the same area as my secret admirer!

    BTW, was that you cruising by my house at 5mph this morning when I went out to get my map book? LOL

  34. Anonymous Says:
  35. I read you "I thought" faithfully, but had not seen this post. Absolutely my favorite artist of all times and one of the best bios ever written. Thanks!!!!!!!


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