Rock Star Janis Joplin Found Dead In Hollywood Home

Rock singer Janis Joplin was found dead in her Hollywood home on October 4. The coroner’s office said Monday that an autopsy showed that the rock superstar died from an overdose of drugs.

An autopsy on the body of the 27-year-old Miss Joplin, whose writing, wailing, and sometimes profane performances electrified the music world, disclosed numerous needle marks on both arms, with several fresh ones on the left arm, the coroner said. He said further tests would be needed to identify the type of drugs involved.

Miss Joplin was found dead in her apartment Sunday night, clad in a nightgown. The coroner said there was no evidence of violence of foul play. A team will conduct a psychological autopsy, in which a team of behavioral scientists examines the subject’s personal life to determine whether a drug overdose was accidental or intentional, will be conducted.

Found in her hotel apartment

Miss Joplin had come here from her San Francisco home to record for Columbia, which had sold millions of her singles, “Piece of My Heart,” “Maybe,” “One Good Man” and albums “Cheap Thrills,” “I Got Them Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again, Mama.”

>> Also see: Janis Joplin changes the blues (1968)

Her body was found by her guitarist, John Cooke, who wondered why the singer had not emerged from her hotel apartment all day Sunday, and borrowed a key to enter. He summoned police.

Janis Joplin had been dead approximately 12 hours, police said. Bottles of tequila, vodka and wine were found in the apartment, but no drugs.

Miss Joplin followed in death another member of the rock pantheon, Jimi Hendrix, 27, who was found in a London apartment last month, having suffocated on vomit while unconscious.

“People seem to have a high sense of drama about me,” Janis Joplin once told an interviewer. “Maybe they can enjoy my music more if they think I’m destroying myself.

“I got into this because of something inside me. I’m not one of those people with a learned skill. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it for real. I cannot just go out on stage and fake it. I have got to let loose with what is inside.”

Her galvanic style brought her the title “the Judy Garland of rock.” She bore a resemblance to the previous star in her full-voiced style, her complete openness with an audience, and talk of self-destruction. Miss Garland died in a London apartment in 1969, apparently from a drug overdose.

The Janis Joplin story

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1943, Janis Joplin was a rebel at an early age. She left home at 17, drifted across the country, taking odd jobs and occasional college courses. She came to admire beatniks because they “believe things are not going to get better and say the hell with it, stay stoned and have a good time.”

Fame overtook her at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. She had been singing in small clubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, developing a mournful blues style that harked back to her early idols, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter and Bessie Smith.

At Monterey, she astounded the huge audience with her vibrant style and depth of feeling on “Love is Like a Ball and Chain.” Her success was made.

Once she analyzed her style:

“Black people have the blues because they cannot have this and they cannot have that. Me, I was brought up in a middle-class family; I could have had anything. But you need something more in your gut, man.”

Crowds, celebrity and constant travel

After Monterey came the trappings of super-crowds, constant travel, occasional brushes with the law over obscene language on stage. Janis Joplin was rich, but she still lived like a hippie in a cluttered San Francisco apartment.

Although she seemed totally fulfilled as an artist before the audience, she admitted that the rest of her life was wanting.

“The worst thing is the loneliness,” she told an interviewer last year. “Somehow you lost all the old friends. The travel circumstances pull them away.

“It is hard to make new ones. When we are not onstage, we rehearse, lay around in bed, check in and out of motels, watch television. It really is lonely. I live for that one hour on stage. It is full of feeling. It is more exciting than you would expect in a lifetime. It is a rush, honey.”


About this story

Source publication date: Oct 6, 1970

Filed under: 1960s, 1970s, Celebrities & famous people, Entertainment, Music

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