Happy Birthday, Janis Joplin


January 19, 2016 — Janis Joplin would have been 73 years old today.

It is always difficult to envision someone who died young as an old person. With Joplin, it is almost impossible. She embodied youth. Her singing style (and the songs she often chose), her clothing, her approach to life, her infectious grin are all hard to imagine on an older person.

She died at 27, one of the original members of the so-called “27 Club,” that group of performers who seem to die most readily at that age. 

She was already a star when she died, but her iconic status seems to have grown over the decades. Although her body of recorded work is relatively small, Rolling Stone lists her at #46 of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. The Recording Industry Association of America credits her with 15.5 million albums. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Sadly, she did not live to see any of this. She died before Me and Bobby McGee became a #1 hit — her only song to do so.

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac said of her, “Janis put herself out there completely, and her voice was not only strong and soulful, it was painfully and beautifully real. She sang in the great tradition of the rhythm & blues singers that were her heroes, but she brought her own dangerous, sexy rock & roll edge to every single song. She really gave you a piece of her heart. And that inspired me to find my own voice and my own style.”

Janis: Little Girl Blue, the well-received documentary by Amy Berg on Janis’ life and music, is playing in theaters and is available for rental. It is available for pre-order on DVD.
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