If there’s a voice in music that has made an impact, is Janis Joplin’s voice.
Janis Joplin had the world at her feet just before joining the 27 club. The singer that influenced a big part of the 60s cultural scene died from an accidental overdose in October 1970, when she was just 27 years old. Her powerful, emotional, and original talent and her unique lifestyle made her an icon in the music industry.
On January 19th she would be turning 74 years old, and as part of her life’s celebration, we bring you Janis’ signature work “Piece Of My Heart,” this time with a little arrangement so that you can enjoy one of the best voices in music. Youtube user Joh Ph made arrangements on Janis’ song to isolate her killing performance and muting the instrumental part, resulting in Janis awesome voice in all her magnificence.
“Piece Of My Heart.”
This track was part of one of the three covers recorded on Janis 1968 studio album Cheap Thrills. The song was a huge success and became Janis’ signature work showing her incredible singing style. In the video, Janis’ voice is isolated from all the instrumentation, showing her raw and emotionally singing style.
The making of an iconic cover.
Janis was a huge blues lover. In fact, one of her idols was Bessie Smith, “The Empress of the Blues.” In her 1968 studio album with Big Brother and the Holding Company, she made a cover of the blues song “Piece Of My Heart.” The song, originally recorded by Erma Franklin just a year before Janis would make the cover, didn’t reach popularity until Janis recorded it. “Piece of My Heart” is considered Number 353 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Times and is also included among The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shape Rock and Roll.
A hippie before her time.
Janis musical career started back in her hometown Port Arthur, Texas. As a high school student, she used to entertain her friends by singing blues and country songs. After graduating from high school, she traveled to California and lived in a beatnik enclave. Beatniks were like the ancestors of hippies, so Janis was a hippie before their time. She identified herself as a beatnik for the rest of her life and was popular for living her life under her own rules. After all, this girl was a genius and a rebel.
She was often considered a rebel and a feminist. As a kid, she didn’t stick to the southern ladylike behavior. And once she became a rock star she represented women’s autonomy and their right to choose. She embodied some of the aims of the feminist movement since she represented the broad scope of women’s autonomy regarding sexual and social life.
Turning into music.
Janis was not what you could consider a popular girl, she was bullied for her appearance and in the little time, she spent in college, she was named the ugliest man on campus by the fraternities at Texas U. As every artist, she took these experiences and turned them into art. She took comfort in music and impregnated it with emotions as you can appreciate when you listen to her work.
Flying solo and reaching the stars.
Her performance in the counterculture festival Monterey Pop Festival rose her to fame in 1967. At that moment she decided to follow her solo career and left the Big Brother and the Holding Company. She then was part of other bands, such as Kozmic Blues and the Ful Tilt Boogie Band, but always following her solo career. Janis got five singles into the Billboard Top 100, including 1971’s Number 1 song “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Some fun facts about her.
Her idols were Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith. She used to carry Holiday’s biography everywhere she went, it was like a bible for her. Also, she made sure her idol Bessie Smith got a proper tombstone. The blues singer died in a car accident in 1970 and remained in an unmarked grave until Joplin paid for a proper burial.
Her friends used to call her “Pearl,” which is also the name of her last album. Just two days before dying, she changed her last will and left over $1,500 to her friends for a big party. The tickets for the party were printed “The drinks are on Pearl”, and of course there was a lot of Southern Comfort which was her favorite drink.