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Janis Joplin never experienced a shortage of gigs or album sales, but she became a true legend after dying from a heroin dose at age 27. Her unmistakable bluesy voice will live on in our minds forever. Here are some facts you may not have known about the 1960s singer.
1. Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. She was a bright young girl and an excellent student. In high school, Janis joined the Glee Club and the Future Teachers of America.
2. Joplin wasn’t very popular in school and was often bullied. Former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson attended high school with Janis and mercilessly teased her. She became a small-town rebel in response, choosing to color her hair and hang out in blues bars.
3. Janis spent one semester in college, but she dropped out after cruel treatment by her fellow students. She was voted “Ugliest Man on Campus” by Texas University fraternities, a label that bothered her for the rest of her short life.
4. Southern Comfort enjoyed having an unofficial representative in Janis. Her bottle was so omnipresent that the company gifted her with a lynx coat for all of the free advertising and boosted sales.
5. Janis met no shortage of male admirers in the entertainment world. She smashed a bottle of Southern Comfort over Jim Morrison’s head (what a waste). He was smitten: “What a great woman! She’s terrific!” Morrison retrieved Janis’ phone number from her producer. Janis wasn’t interested in Jim, who was majorly bummed out over the rejection.
6. Janis never enjoyed hallucinogenic drugs, which may have been why she didn’t dig Morrison. She stuck with alcohol until turning to heroin (with which she overdosed in 1970).
7. Leonard Cohen famously wrote about Janis as his mystery lover in the “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” song. Actually, it’s not such a mystery: “You told me again you preferred handsome men / But for me you would make an exception / And clenching your fist for the ones like us / Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty/ You fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind / We are ugly but we have the music.”
8. Janis was a devoted student of Kenpo Karate. She earned a third-degree black belt.
9. Amy Adams will play Joplin in an upcoming biopic, and the role was a hotly contested one for years. Zooey Deschanel played Joplin in Gospel According to Janis.
10. Janis didn’t believe music should be about making money, but she owned a Porsche. Several years prior to this purchase, she hitchhiked to San Francisco to escape college and join the hippie movement.
11. Joplin was arrested for using “vulgar and indecent language” during a performance in Tampa, Florida in 1969.
12. You could have watched Joplin perform at Woodstock for a mere $8 (the cost of a day ticket). She pocketed $7500 to perform at the entire event.
13. Believe it or not, Janis only had one hit song during her career: “Me and Bobby Mcgee.” The song hit number one on the Billboard charts in 1971 (one year after her death).
14. Janis was terribly lonely in spite of rarely being alone. She admitted to keeping many lovers but remaining a creature of solitude: “Onstage, I make love to 25,000 people — then I go home alone.”
15. Billie Holiday influenced Janis, who carried around Holiday’s biography (Lady Sings the Blues) “like a bible.” Janis carried the book around during her entire adult life.
16. Janis earned the nickname “Pearl” from her best friends, so she used the word as the title of her final album. She crafted her last will in testament mere days before her death. She left her buddies $1500 to throw a rowdy drinking party.
17. After her death, Joplin’s ashes were scatted across the Pacific Ocean by airplane. Only her parents and aunt were allowed to attend the private funeral service.