Live Music Capital of the World: Janis Joplin

One of the many art guitars scattered around Austin, this is one of the first you see when you fly in, because it's right there in the airport.

One of the many art guitars scattered around Austin, this is one of the first you see when you fly in, because it’s right there in the airport.

This is my second post about Austin musical greats, my way of celebrating the ACL festival, since we’re not going there.Today’s post is about Janis Joplin and it just happens to also be the day she died.

Janis Joplin’s musical career pretty much started in Austin, years before she made it big. When she was a student at the University of Texas in Austin, she regularly performed at Threadgill’s, an old gas station converted into a restaurant.  Click here for more on her times there and her friendship with Kenneth Threadgill. Threadgill’s is still one of the Austin music landmarks.

“Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) […] 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 own 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 charted five singles, and other popular songs from her four-year solo career include “Down on Me“, “Summertime“, “Piece of My Heart“, “Ball ‘n’ Chain“, “Maybe“, “To Love Somebody“, “Kozmic Blues“, “Work Me, Lord“, “Cry Baby“, “Mercedes Benz“, 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 Psychedelic Soul,” and became known as Pearl among her friends. […] Rolling Stone ranked Joplin number […] 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.” (

The movie The Rose, with Bette Midler, is loosely based on Joplin’s life. When it came out I didn’t know much about Janis Joplin, but I was an avid fan of Bette Midler’s and the movie and the music blew me away.

The new musical A Night with Janis Joplin has been touring around the country, including Austin, over the summer and debuts on Broadway tonight.

Today is the 43rd anniversary of her death. She died of a heroine overdose in Los Angeles in 1970.

The next post in this series is about W.C. Clark.

4 responses to “Live Music Capital of the World: Janis Joplin

  1. Janis and the music of the 60s… that was a fabulous time to be alive and experiencing it all first hand… I feel sorry for younger people who missed out!!!! Little did I realize then it was such a special time…


  2. i am on my way to holland michigan where i am a licensed street guitarist, vocalist, comedian until dec 31 2013…..i love it when 6 yo kids walk by and give you thumbs up for your music!  then get dad to cough up some $ for my guitar case!  happened twice the same day during the holland tulip festival!….a whole new generation to sing and play for now!  coreysteele on



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