Heavily blues-influenced rock and roll singer and occasional songwriter. Born January 19, 1943, Port Arthur Texas, died October 4, 1970, Los Angeles California. Released four albums as the frontwoman for several bands from 1967 through to a posthumous release in 1971 after her untimely death of an accidental heroin overdose.
Having grown up listening to blues musicians such as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton Joplin left Texas for San Francisco in 1966, where her vocal style saw her join "Big Brother and The Holding Company", who released an eponymously titled album in 1967, to little acclaim. The band's big break came at the Monterey Pop Festival, which included a version of Thornton's Ball and Chain featuring a barnstorming vocal by Joplin. Their 1968 album Cheap Thrills featured more raw emotional performances and made Joplin's name.
Splitting from "Big Brother" she formed a sequence of bands, including "Full Tilt Boogie" who backed her on 1969's I Got Dem Old Kozmic Blues Again Mama and the posthumously released Pearl (1971), which featured a hit single in the form of Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee and the wry social commentary of Mercedes Benz.
She is now remembered best for her powerful, highly distinctive voice, significantly divergent from the soft folk-influenced styles most common at the time, her music spoke of pain and agony reflected in her own chaotic personal life with its unhappy childhood and abuse of drugs.