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There Was Only One Janis Joplin

The Reuters obituary was pretty much right on the mark, quite an achievement considering that it was printed just a few hours after Janis Joplin died on December 4, 1970.

Joplin would have been 71 years old had she lived. Here death was a shame on both the artistic and human levels. Reading the accounts of her life again after all these years, combined with the very high quality video on YouTube, brings it all back.

Joplin was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas. She was an outcast in high school and left for San Francisco, where she began using drugs and drinking heavily. She returned to Port Arthur for a while and tried to lead a more conventional life. Joplin almost got married — Wikipedia says it was the man who backed out — and went to school to study computers.

Joplin eventually returned to San Francisco and joined Big Brother & the Holding Company, which was a great band. She broke through at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.  One of the landmark albums in rock and roll history, “Cheap Thrills,” was released the following year. Big Brother broke up, also in 1968. Joplin performed solo and fronted The Kozmic Blues Band and the Full Tilt Boogie Band.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending, of course. Above is a great clip of Joplin and Tom Jones — who never ceases to surprise — singing “Raise Your Hand.” Below Joplin performs “Move Over” on The Dick Cavett Show in June, 1970. One of the commenters at YouTube says that she is with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, which fits the timeline.

Wikipedia and Reuters (posted at The New York Times) were used to write this post.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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