Janis Lyn Joplin was an American singer and songwriter from Port Arthur, Texas. As a youth Joplin was ridiculed by her fellow students due to her unconventional appearance and personal beliefs.
- January 19, 1943, Port Arthur
- October 4, 1970, Los Angeles
- Beat Weeds, Pearl
Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970) was an American singer and songwriter from Port Arthur, Texas. As a youth Joplin was ridiculed by her fellow students due to her unconventional appearance and personal beliefs. She later sang about her experience at school through her song "Ego Rock." Early in her life, Joplin cultivated a rebellious and unconventional lifestyle, becoming a beatnik poet. She began her singing career as a folk and blues singer in San Francisco, playing clubs and bars with her guitar and auto-harp.
Joplin 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 more soulful and bluesy 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 was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on January 19, 1943, to Dorothy (nee East) Joplin (1913-1998), a registrar at a business college, and her husband, Seth Joplin (1910-1987), an engineer at Texaco. She had two younger siblings, Michael and Laura. The family attended the Church of Christ. The Joplins felt that Janis always needed more attention than their other children, with her mother stating,
"She was unhappy and unsatisfied without [receiving a lot of attention]. The normal rapport wasn't adequate."
As a teenager, she befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by African-American blues artists Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Lead Belly, whom Joplin later credited with influencing her decision to become a singer. She began singing in the local choir and expanded her listening to blues singers such as Odetta, Billie Holiday and Big Mama Thornton.
Primarily a painter while still in school, she first began singing blues and folk music with friends. While at Thomas Jefferson High School, she stated that she was mostly shunned. Joplin was quoted as saying,
"I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn't hate niggers."
As a teen, she became overweight and her skin broke out so badly she was left with deep scars which required dermabrasion. Other kids at high school would routinely taunt her and call her names like "pig," "freak" or "creep." Among her classmates were G. W. Bailey and Jimmy Johnson.
Joplin graduated from high school in 1960 and attended Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas, during the summer and later the University of Texas at Austin, though she did not complete her studies. The campus newspaper The Daily Texan ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined "She Dares To Be Different." The article began,
"She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi's to class because they're more comfortable, and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin."