Janis Joplin was born in Texas in 1943, and as a teenager started listening to blues music, which inspired her to start singing. In 1963 she moved to San Francisco, where she befriended and recorded with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen (the recordings became a popular bootleg called The Typewriter Tapes). It was also at this time that she started drinking and using drugs heavily. In 1965 she moved back to Texas for a change of lifestyle, in an attempt to kick her habits. However she returned to San Francisco when she was invited to be the lead singer of rock band Big Brother & The Holding Company, and together they became a very popular part of the city's psychedelic rock scene. She also relapsed into her excessive drink and drugs habits.
Big Brother & The Holding Company became very successful, and Joplin became known as the most powerful white female vocalist in rock music. However she left the band for a solo career in late 1968, taking Big Brother guitarist Sam Andrew with her to form a new backing group, which she called the Kozmic Blues Band. Her first solo album with them was released in 1969, titled I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! It was a fine debut, shifting direction away from acid rock towards more concise, funky R&B music. It was a style that suited her bluesy voice well. Among the covers featured on the album were The Chantels' "Maybe", The Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody", two songs by Nick Gravenites, and Jerry Ragavoy's "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder"), which became something of a signature tune for her. Though opinions were divided over whether her new direction was a good thing of whether she should have stayed with Big Brother, she was still generally seen as one of the greatest voices of her era. The album got to #5.
|> Pearl (1971)
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