Known as "The Queen of Psychedelic Soul", "Pearl" among friends, Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas and rose to fame in the late 60s as the lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company.
During the group's breakthrough performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Joplin wowed the crowd with her cover of Big Mamma Thornton's "Ball and Chain." The performance was featured in the 1968 concert film "Monterey Pop".
The band's debut studio album was release in 1967, shortly after the Monterey Pop Festival. The album spawned hits like "Down on Me" and "Bye Bye Baby."
The band members worked well together on stage, but by 1968 they were being billed as "Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company," and the constant media attention Joplin received was creating tensions within the band.
"Cheap Thrills" was released in 1968, and the world got the gifts of great songs like "Piece of My Heart" and "Summertime."
The stress inside Big Brother and the Holding Company didn't diminish with their rise in popularity, and it wasn't long before it was clear that Janis was destined for a solo career. Her last performance with the band, sans a couple reunions in 1970, was on December 1, 1968.
Free of her ball and chain, Joplin quickly formed a new band, Kozmic Blues Band. Although the band's first album didn't have as much commercial success as "Cheap Thrills", several hits like "Try (Just a Little Harder)", "Kozmic Blues", and "Little Girl Blue" were fruits of that labor.
Janis performed at Woodstock on August 16, 1969. Though she had been reluctant at first, once arriving and seeing the large crowd, Joplin became energized and nervous. Although she had struggled early in her life with drugs, it was at the Woodstock concert where Janis started using again.
During the Woodstock performance Joplin, hopped up on heroin, was not at her best. Though the crowd didn't seem to care Janis was disappointed in her performance and insisted it not be used in the documentary film "Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More."
After Woodstock, Joplin continued to struggle with drugs. Her performance with Tina Turner at Madison Square Garden was not good, and she stumbled through another band, The Full Tilt Boogie Band.
She hopped aboard the Festival Express Train Tour through Canada in 1970, and her inconsistent performances while on tour were attributed to her heroin and alcohol use.
She produced some solid performances on Festival Express with songs like "Tell Mamma" and "Get It While You Can", but other times she would go on long bouts of incoherent tangents.
During late August, September and early October 1970, Joplin and her band rehearsed and recorded a new album, but Joplin would die before the album's release.
Joplin died at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose on Oct. 4, 1970.
The album "Pearl" was released in 1971 and became Joplin's greatest selling album of her career, producing hits like "Me and Bobby McGee", "Mercedes Benz", and "Move Over."
Written by Kris Kristoferson, "Me and Bobby McGee" is Joplin's biggest hit single.
Since then, Rolling Stone has ranked Janis number 46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004, number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and she was inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Although her life was short-lived, Janis Joplin was a kick-ass blues rocker with spunk, passion, and an irreverent presence that was contagious. She gave electrifying performances and left everything on the stage. If you don't have this Pearl in your music collection, you're missing something truly special.