Janis Joplin, dying at 27, was one of first of the Forever 27 Club. Here one traces her journey as a pioneer of the drugged life of Rock N Roll in the 60s.
How Did Joplin Become a Member of the Club?
Janis Joplin was a rock and blues sensation of the 1960s, a singer with a distinctive style from Port Arthur. Joplin became one of the most sensational members of the Forever 27 Club with her sudden demise in 1970 due to a heroin overdose at the age of no more and no less than 27.
Janis Joplin was raised in small-town America and started singing blues and folk while still in high school. She was bullied while in high school and dealt with severe under confidence due to the same. Joining Texas State University in Austin, Janis began to develop a distinct style of her own, singing and playing her signature harmonica.
She performed for the first time with a band called the Waller Creek Boys, recording tracks alone from the end of 1962.
The Addictions Arise
She left Texas and moved to San Francisco in 1963 to try and make it big. However, this was the period in which her substance abuse problems assumed significant proportions as she began to get dangerously addicted to the injection of heroin.
Joplin continued to use drugs in the period between 1963 to 1965, acquiring a reputation as a ‘speed freak’ and even getting arrested for shoplifting during a stint. Joplin’s musical career didn’t quite take off at the time with her performing and recording tracks erratically down the years.
Attempts at Overcoming
In 1965 Joplin returned to Port Arthur for a while when her friends noticed her increasing drug abuse and alerted her parents who staged an intervention to counter the same. The next couple of years saw Joplin managing to combat her tendencies towards substance abuse while she stayed at home and commuted to University.
In 1966 she started playing with the band Big Brother and the Holding Company and once again left her hometown for San Francisco. However, she was determined not to give in to drug abuse again and managed to hold out against it for quite some time.
Back and Forth
Unfortunately, Janis relapsed in the next year, continuing to inject heroin as she began to make a name for herself in the competitive world of rock’n’ roll over the next couple of years. In 1969 Joplin separated from Big Brother, having by then established herself as the up and coming sensation in the music world of the 60s. Her haunting voice, her signature style and her songwriting talent combined to make Joplin into an icon of the heydays of American rock’n’ roll and blues.
In the last two years of her short but brilliant life, Joplin worked independently, with background groups like the Kozmic Blues Band, making a variety of widely appreciated festival appearances and performances and recording independent albums.
At this time, she managed to reduce and possibly stop her drug abuse altogether through the efforts of herself and several friends. She went for a holiday to Brazil in early 1970 to ‘clean’ her system further and managed to do the same.
Burnt Out Ends
However, upon her return, while staying at a well-known hotel in Hollywood, she ran into an old friend and co-abuser, Peggy Caserta, and relapsed tragically, beginning to inject massive quantities of heroin while also giving way to alcoholism. She was recording an album at the same time. Her friends were unaware of her recent relapse and shocked by her sudden death due to an accidental heroin overdose on the 4th of October, 1970. Joplin managed to accomplish a great deal in her brief 27 years and is remembered as the Queen of Rock even half a century later. Her death, along with the deaths of her musical contemporaries Hendrix, Morrison and others between the years 1969-71, all at the tragically young age of 27, was, in fact, the reason behind the very formation of the Forever 27 Club.