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Janis Lyn Joplin was born at St. Mary's Hospital in the
oil-refining town of Port Arthur, near the Texas border with
Louisana. Her father was a cannery worker, and her mother was
registrar for a business college. As an overweight teenager she was
a folk-music devotee (especially Odetta, Leadbelly and Bessie
Smith). After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School she
attended Lamar State College and the University of Texas, where she
played autoharp in Austin bars. A fraternity voted her the Ugliest
Man on Campus in 1963, and she spent two years travelling,
performing, and becoming drug-addicted. Back home in 1966, her
friend Chet Helms suggested she become lead singer for Big Brother
and the Holding Company, an established Haight-Ashbury band
(guitarists James Gurley and Sam Andrew, bassist Peter Albin and
drummer David Getz). She got wide recognition through the Monterey
Pop Festival in 1967 and the band's second album, Cheap Thrills.
She formed her Kosmic Blues Band the following year and achieved
still further recognition as a solo performer at Woodstock in 1969.
In the spring of 1970 she sang with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, and
on October 4 of that year she was found dead in Hollywood's
Landmark Motor Hotel from a heroin-alcohol overdose the previous
day. Her ashes were scattered off the coast of California. Her
biggest selling album was the posthumously released Pearl which
contained her quintessential "Me & Bobby McGee."
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