Queen of rock, singer Janis Lyn Joplin (1943-1970) never sang quietly. She blasted full force and lived with fiercely passionate vigor, creating some of the most exciting performances of the 60s.
"I think you can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow," said the lusty singer. She was once gifted a fur coat from the Southern Comfort distillery because she drank from their bottle at her concerts. Her supercharged, raunchy persona broke barriers and redefined the role of women in rock.
Born on this day in the small oil-refining town of Port Arthur, Texas, in the heart of the Bible-belt, she was raised on the music of Bessie Smith and Otis Redding.
"Texas is okay if you want to settle down, but it's not for outrageous people, and I was always outrageous," she said. Her singing helped ease whatever despair she carried.
To pursue her dream, Joplin hitchhiked to San Francisco in the early 60s and evenutally hooked up with the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Belting the blues and learning to rock with passion in the wild Bay Area, she blazed with such songs as Me and Bobby McGee (by Kris Kristofferson) and Piece of My Heart.
"On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone," she said. With wild hair flying, she wore colorful boas and over-sized sunglasses.
Wailing the lyrics with throaty hunger, she wowed the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival with her straight-shooting rock-blues performance, stunning the audience with her interpretation of Ball and Chain.
"Don't compromise yourself," Janis urged. "You are all you've got."
Speak up, sing loudly.