Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits
Joplin was born at St. Mary Hospital in Port Arthur, Texas. The daughter of Seth Joplin, a worker at Texaco, she had two younger siblings, Michael and Laura. She grew up listening to blues musicians such as Bessie Smith, Odetta, and Big Mama Thornton and singing in the local choir. While at Thomas Jefferson High School, she was mostly shunned. Primarily a painter, it was in high school that she first began singing blues and folk music with friends. Joplin graduated in 1960 and went to college at the University of Texas in Austin, though she never attained a degree. While attending the University of Texas at Austin she was often referred to as the "ugliest man on campus."
Cultivating a rebellious manner that could be viewed as "liberated" — the women's liberation movement was still in its infancy at this time — Joplin styled herself in part after her female blues heroines, and in part after the beat poets. She left Texas for San Francisco in 1963, lived in North Beach and in Haight-Ashbury as well as Corte Madera. Around this time her drug use began to increase, and she acquired a reputation as a "speed freak" and occasional heroin user. She also used other intoxicants. She was a heavy drinker throughout her career, and her trademark beverage was Southern Comfort.
Janis Joplin on stage.Like many other female singers of the era, Janis' feisty public image was at odds with her real personality. The book Love, Janis, written by her sister, has done much to further the reassessment of her life and work and reveals the private Janis to have been a highly intelligent, articulate, shy and sensitive woman who was devoted to her family.