Born Janis Lyn Joplin in Port Arthur, Texas, she always felt like an outcast and her mother was once quoted as saying that Janis was never happy with the amount of attention she received at home. Janis, who became known as Pearl among her friends in later years, was a misfit in high school who escaped into painting and music. From a young age Janis was obsessed with blues and styled herself as a blues heroine. In 1963 she moved to San Francisco and around this time her drug use increased to the point that she became so skeletal that in 1965 friends threw a ‘bus fare’ party for her so that she could return home. Back in Port Arthur she changed her lifestyle dramatically, avoiding drugs and alcohol and enrolling in University to study anthropology. The lure of music was very strong so she would travel to Austin to perform solo over weekends and in 1965 she recorded seven studio tracks which were re-issued in 1995 labelled ‘This is Janis Joplin 1965’. In June 1966 she was recruited to join psychedelic rock band ‘Big Brother and the Holding Company’ and she moved back to San Francisco. She stayed clean for several weeks and made the band promise that needles would not be used in their rehearsal space or her apartment. In August 1966 while the band were recording an album in Chicago she relapsed back into drinking. As the band made a name for themselves over the next few years they were often referred to by the media as ‘Janis Joplin and the Big Brother Holding Company’ which caused resentment within the band, eventually leading to their split in 1968. Joplin formed a new backup group ‘The Kozmic Blues Band’ and they reached quite a bit of success with their ‘Kozmic Blues’ album going gold, although it didn’t quite match the success of ‘Cheap Thrills’ that she recorded with the Holding Company.
Joplin was the ultimate hippie chick, embracing free love in all its forms and although she had male lovers she also had a relationship with long term friend Peggy Caserta. Always the non-conformist she had her Porsche painted in psychedelic colours which gave purists hives, not that she gave a damn. When Joplin was invited to perform at Woodstock in 1969 she had never heard of the festival before despite the organisers advertising her as a headlining act. The band were flown in by helicopter and had a 10 hour wait backstage where Janis shot heroin after freaking out when she saw the massive crowds outside. She was more comfortable playing intimate venues so when she eventually went onstage she was drunk and high and kept asking the audience if they were staying stoned. Her voice was hoarse and wheezy and she found it hard to dance and reports say that she was very unhappy with her performance that night, so unhappy that she insisted her singing was not included in the documentary or the soundtrack album. After the band broke up at the end of 1969 Janis went to Brazil and stopped her drug use but after returning to the US many believe it was her romantic relationship with Peggy Caserta that set her back on her path of intravenous drug use. Caserta claimed in her book that they decided to stay away from each other in an effort to stop using heroin but despite that Janis Joplin eventually overdosed on heroin in a hotel room in October 1970. What a waste of an amazingly gifted soul.
Janis Joplin’s tipple of choice was Southern Comfort so I've chosen a couple of recipes to share with you.
1 tot Southern Comfort
20ml lemon juice
20ml apple juice
2 teaspoons apricot jam
8 mint leaves
15ml sugar syrup
Put the ingredients in a jam jar, muddle, half fill with crushed ice, screw the jars cap on and shake. Top up with crushed ice and garnish with a lemon wedge.
1 tot Southern Comfort
Splash of cranberry juice
Dash of Tabasco
Shake and strain into shot glass. If like me you don’t have the patience just make a whole lot in a cocktail shaker in one go.
1 and ¼ cups Southern Comfort
5 cups cranberry juice
330ml soda water
30ml lime cordial
Mix all the ingredients in a pitcher, add ice and garnish with lime slices.
GeeGee Curtained x
‘People, whether they like it or not, like their blues singers miserable. They like their blues singers to die afterwards.’ ~ Janis Joplin (19 January 1943 – 4 October 1970)