Janis Joplin to me was one of the most influential female vocalists. As a teenager I wanted to be able to sing like her, but alas, could never come close to matching her power and passion. In the 1960s there were very few female rock stars – she was one of the first, like Grace Slick.
I like her unpolished bluesy style – it has a sense of freedom, of total abandon – there is no compromise.
Many years later I had the privilege of meeting most of her former band, Big Brother and the Holding Company – Sam Andrew, Peter Albin and David Getz, when they performed in Pensacola, Fla., with my friend, Lisa Mills, as their female vocalist.
Lisa is an amazing female vocalist, too, although her style is very different from Janis’s.
I had asked guitarist Sam Andrew what set Janis apart from other singers. If memory serves correctly, he said Janis is a phenomenon – a once in a lifetime thing. There is no comparing her with anyone else.
Big Brother still performs today, 40 years after Janis’s death on Oct.4, 1970. Janis was 27 when she died. Her legacy has lived much longer.
Janis was a diamond. A huge, rough-cut diamond.