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Janis Joplin and her first performance with Big Brother and the Holding Company-as it was

It seemed as though the circle had come full circle for Joplin, and large audiences began to recognize her as the next in line of great jazz and blues singers...

Janis Joplin: the story of the first major concert of the "white queen of the blues"

She is a true legend. Her bold image, strong extraordinary voice, daring manner of performance on stage... Absolutely every detail in this girl testified that she takes her place among other icons of world music for a reason. Janis Joplin still considered legendary blues performer with white skin (no wonder it is called "white queen" of this genre) and one of the greatest vocalists in the history of rock music! Joplin passed away in October 1970 years, and she entered the infamous "Club 27", however, her legacy continues to flourish and find a fresh response in the hearts of new generations... But today we will not talk about her merits or wild lifestyle, although the first and second are entertaining topics for very long discussions. Today, more than fifty years after this legendary moment, we decided to recall the story of Janis Joplin's first concert with Big Brother and the Holding Companywhich took place in the summer 1966 at the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco. So: the story promises to be quite curious ...

Joplin as a synonym for the word "blues"

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

Delightful Janis Joplin, native Port Arthur, Texas, at one time came under the colossal influence of such passionate jazz and blues performers as Etta James, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin… At the same time, Bessie Smith had the greatest influence on the future icon. Joplin with genuine pride called the "Empress of the blues." Janice I took all those influences, bled them through like a sponge, and started to explore my raw, powerful, whiskey-soaked vocals.

Before Joplin became one of the leading figures of the bohemian counterculture in music San Francisco, she was trying to break into the music industry in her home state of Texas. She played various concerts in Austin, worked as a waitress in a bowling alley and, after spending some time on the bohemian scene, eventually entered the university. There, the future star was constantly attacked and bullied by her peers, mainly because of her appearance: Janis Joplin was voted "the ugliest man on campus". It doesn’t sound very… Especially, it must have sounded very painful and sad for a young girl named Janice.

But "Jenny" was stronger than that. Selling illegal substances, she sang and played the harp in a band called The Waller Creek Boys Plus One. She realized that Texas did not fit her bohemian spirit, and yearned for a more unified and professional scene.

San Francisco and its aftermath

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

Her ticket to the core of the hippie movement in San Francisco became her friend Chet Helms. First stay Joplin on the West Coast in 1963 lasted until 1965 years, and this time turned out to be quite difficult and romantic for Janice ... She continually found herself in the lower strata of society, playing in cheap coffee houses and pubs, for which they almost did not pay. Yes, and those ridiculous money that she received for the evening, Janice invariably spent her "traditions" on booze. Around the same period, she began to have problems with addictions, much more serious than alcohol ...

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

In San Francisco "Jenny" I started talking to other like-minded people. There she had a motorcycle accident, she was beaten in a street fight, and then arrested for shoplifting ... In the middle 1960's, to put it mildly - exhausted, she returned to her native Port Arthur and decided to enroll in a sociology course. She continued to play shows and even considered joining a Texas band! But… Something went wrong. Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, her friend Chet Helms got to know the newly created Big Brother and the Holding Company (whose mission is to “speak to all the children of the earth”) and witnessed the flourishing of the music scene there… One important thing he notices is the success of the bands led by female singers (Jefferson Airplane, The Great Society…) Then Helms sends their old mutual friend to Texasto convince Janice come back and audition...

Janice's First Concert in Decades: Fast-forward to the Avalon Ballroom Stage

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

The audition was successful, and exactly one month later, June 10, 1966, Joplin played her first concert in Avalon Ballroom San Francisco! At that time, the group consisted of Peter Albin on bass Sam Andrew and James Gurley On guitar, David Goetz on drums and, in fact, Joplin on vocals...

One year later Joplin and the band will perform Monterey Pop Festival — the first major international music festival broadcast on the air! Their performance was historic! It made the band, and especially Joplin, one of the West Coast's greatest events of the day... While the passionate blues singer struggled for years for recognition, one can only marvel at how quickly Joplin rose to international stardom! Michelle Phillips from Mamas and the Papas recalled:

“I remember being amazed that this white woman sang like Bessie Smith!”

It seemed that for Joplin the circle has come full circle, and large audiences have begun to recognize her as the next in line of great jazz and blues singers...

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