Janis Joplin: 80th Birthday Tribute

She died far too early: Although Janis Joplin was only 27 years old, she was a formative figure in music culture. On January 19, she would have been 80 years old.

“Yeah, I know I might be overdoing it, but I’d rather go crazy for ten years than turn 70 and just sit in a goddamn chair in front of the TV until then,” Janis Joplin once told the New York Times” on record. In the end it wasn’t even enough for the ten years. Although her career only lasted four years and Rolling Stone ranked her 46th on the 100 Greatest Musicians of All Time in 2010 (and most recently 78th on the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time), Janis Joplin has become a myth Beatnik and hippie movement of the 60’s and 70’s.

The folk rock legend, who died far too early on October 4, 1970, was born 80 years ago, on January 19, 1943, in Port Arthur. Songs like “Me And Bobby McGee” or “Ball And Chain” made the girl from the southeast Texas province a world star. Even today, more than five decades after her sudden death at the age of only 27, her name is synonymous with the radical rebellion against all philistinism. A recommended among the numerous Joplin biographies was published in 2001 by Heinz Geuen. In his book “Feeling Hemmunglos das Leben” he documents the short but excessive life of the pop star and added a lot of contemporary historical context as an extra.

Sex, Drugs And First Gigs

Everyone had a sleek car, everyone dreamed of the future, the nation was preparing to conquer space, and it was one of the sheltered prosperous kids of the time. It could have been a typical US youth of the 50s and 60s. But Janis Joplin consciously chose the other, alternative, anarchistic, hedonistic and ultimately self-destructive variant.

Heinz Geuen, who researched modern music theater and pop culture at the University of Kassel in the 1990s and most recently as a music teacher and rector of the Cologne University of Music and Dance, worked sensitively and down to the last detail on the basis of a large amount of biographical data that had been collected was active, the life of Janis Joplin, which at first glance seemed so absurd, is comprehensible in his work. In doing so, he always places the singer’s vita in relation to the social and political background in the USA. The budding consumption frenzy is just as illuminated as the scars of racial segregation that are far from healed. The author also worked out the contrast between increasing sexual prudery on the one hand and the rising wild beat culture on the other.

Wild girl Janis was quickly dismissed as an outsider in her hometown of Port Arthur. “If something happens, it never happens there. It’s just drive-in theaters and coke stands on the street corners, and everyone who wants something in life like me, flees as fast as they can, or they’re overrun, oppressed and broken. All I was looking for was a little freedom and other people who felt the same way,” Joplin later said of her youth. She was called a “nigger lover” because she openly advocated desegregation.

After graduating from school in 1959, it wasn’t long before Janis Joplin lived out her desire for freedom in Los Angeles, Venice and San Francisco. Sex, drugs and first appearances – but she was always drawn back to the confines of the provinces until she enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin in 1962. There she spent an excessive few months, formed her first band, once again faced an uncomprehending society and finally felt compelled to leave Texas for good. This is how the initial situation for Janis Joplin’s later career, which Heinz Geuen described in an exciting way, can be summarized.

In 1968 She Bought a Porsche Cabriolet

There followed many stations, lovers, who are not simply listed by the author, but also always illuminated from Janis’ emotional point of view. Among other things, moving letters to her parents are quoted and set in relation to the events. Then, in June 1967, came the event that would change Janis Joplin’s life like no other: the Monterey Pop Festival, something of a precursor to the Woodstock Festival that followed two years later. For Janis Joplin, the performance was the breakthrough. Violent and legendary affairs with icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison followed. Geuen does not describe the months as an unbelievable cliché of sex, drugs & rock’n’roll, but turns the abstract term into a comprehensible life purpose of that hippie society – all against the precisely described background of Nixon’s politics, the increasingly violent Vietnam War until the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968.

The climax and symbol of the self-realization of the singer-turned-pop star: In September 1968 she bought a Porsche Cabriolet – and not a Mercedes-Benz, as one of her most famous songs might suggest – and in doing so also snubbed the establishment of the rich and beautiful Californians. The downside of rapid rise: Joplin was a dependent fixer. On October 4, 1970, she died of a heroin overdose at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles. Heinz Geuen concluded his moving biography with a daring assessment: “Today, Janis Joplin, no matter how absurd this assumption may be, would not only be the much-respected colleague of Tina Turner, Whitney Houston or Bette Midler, but would also have her voice, the landmark a whole generation, elicited completely new and unimagined sounds.”

This article is originally published on de.nachrichten.yahoo.com