Janis Lyn Joplin would have been 70 last January if not for her tragic death on October 4, 1970. Her legacy contains some of the finest blues music of the early 70s and one of the greatest hits of the decade, 1970’s Me and Bobby McGee.
Janis Joplin’s singing career really kicked off when she was in her mid-twenties. First, as the lead singer of psychedelic rock band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, then as a soloist with The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band as her backing bands.
lovin’ those festivals
It was at the Monterey Music Festival in 1968 that Big Brother and the Holding Company was first noticed—or, to be more precise, their lead singer was noticed. Within a short while they were riding the top of the popularity charts. On April 7, 1968, they played at “The Wake for Martin Luther King, Jr.” concert in New York. Also on the bill were Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop.
By 1969, Janis had gone solo and was one of the feature acts at Woodstock festival and the Festival Express train tour. She charted five singles, but only one hit #1; that was Me and Bobby McGee. In fact, it was her only song to make it into the US top ten.
the 27 club
Janis died, aged 27, at the Landmark Hotel in Hollywood. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Janis #46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004 and #28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Janis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
me and bobby mcgee fax
- Me and Bobby McGee was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster. The first recording was by Roger Miller, but it was Janis who had the biggest hit with the song.
- Me and Bobby McGee (Janis’ version) hit #1 on the US singles chart in January 1971, three months after her death. It was the second posthumous #1 single in US chart history after Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.
- Janis recorded Me and Bobby McGee about three days before she died. It was released on her album Pearl—Pearl being a name Janis was often referred to by.
- In 2004, Janis’ version of Me and Bobby McGee was ranked at #148 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- The song was originally written to a woman; Janis changed the gender and some of the lyrics to that of a man.
- Other artists to record Me and Bobby McGee include: Roger Miller, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Gordon Lightfoot, Kris Kristofferson, Bill Haley & His Comets, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Grateful Dead, Arlo Guthrie, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Chet Atkins, Thelma Houston, Olivia Newton-John, Lonnie Donegan, Joan Baez, Melissa Etheridge, LeAnn Rimes, Anne Murray, and Pink. In the first five years of the 70s 12 notable versions were released by well-known artists.
- Me and Bobby McGee lyrics.
me and bobby mcgee – janis joplin – 1970 – video
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