Janis Joplin | Texas Public Radio

Janis Joplin

With public life paralyzed by the coronavirus shutdown, a sad announcement came last week from a beloved cafe and music venue in Austin, Texas. Threadgill's, the Depression-era beer joint where Janis Joplin got her start — and later a place that fed Austin's appetite for good food and good music — is closing for good.

Janis Joplin has been called the queen of rock and roll, second only to Bob Dylan as the "creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation's mythology."


In 1969, Newsweek bestowed this honorific on Janis Joplin: "The first female superstar of rock music."

It's also a claim that Holly George-Warren sets out to prove in Janis, her new biography of the iconic Texan singer who rocketed to fame after becoming the frontwoman of the San Francisco blues-rock group Big Brother and the Holding Company — only to die four years later at the age of 27, a casualty of the freewheeling '60s, the decade she came to embody.

Janis Joplin: More Than Just A Great Big Voice

Oct 22, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Janis Joplin left her Texas home in the early 1960s. She didn't fit in in Port Arthur, where she grew up, and she wanted to make a name for herself as a musician. She did that, and more, becoming the biggest female rock star of the era. Joplin's greatest musical success, the album, "Pearl," was released after her death from a heroin overdose in 1970. She was just 27. 

In the 1960s, Janis Joplin was an icon of the counterculture, a female rock star at a time when rock was an all-boys' club.

"At that point in time there weren't too many women taking center stage," biographer Holly George-Warren says. "Janis created this incredible image that went along with her amazing vocal ability. ... [She] was very, very different than most of the women that came before."

Janis Joplin felt a sense of outsider isolation throughout her life. She once said, "On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people. Then I go home alone."

But she wasn't alone — she had John Byrne Cooke.

Cooke was Janis Joplin's first and only road manager, from 1967 until her death from a heroin overdose in 1970. He was the one who found her body. In a new memoir, On the Road With Janis Joplin, he details the electrifying performances — and the drugs — that marked Joplin's tours.

Janis Joplin: The Queen Of Rock

Jan 19, 2013

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

If you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. And it's time now for music. Today, a major musical birthday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PIECE OF MY HEART")

LYDEN: Janis Joplin would have turned 70 years old on this day.