Janis Joplin, often referred to as the “Queen of Rock and Roll,” is best remembered for her rebellious lifestyle, her psychedelic Porsche, her free flowing fashion sense and above all, her distinctive voice.
Rolling Stone ranked her as 46th on their 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and in 2008 she was ranked number 28. Her songs have withstood the test of time, with over 15.5 million albums sold in the US. In honor of a legend who died at the young age of 27, here are 27 facts about the queen of rock ‘n’ roll.
1. She Was Voted “Ugliest Man on Campus” at the University of Texas Which Left Her With Emotional Scars
Janis Joplin was not considered by many during that time to be conventionally pretty. It was because of this that her self-esteem was effected for the entirety of her life. Growing up, she had been slightly overweight and had problems with acne that left her with an incredibly negative view of herself. As a child, Joplin was bullied for her looks and for being different.
The bullying continued all the way up until her first year of college at the University of Texas in Austin. A fraternity actually ended up voting her as “Ugliest Man on Campus” which rightfully hurt her deeply and she never forgot about it. Joplin ended up dropping out of college and she left Texas for San Francisco to escape the “angry men who liked to pick on her” as she would say.
2. She Loved Southern Comfort So Much, the Company Gave Her a Fur Coat in Return for the Publicity
Like Joplin’s personality, and voice, her fashion sense was just as unique as her voice which was uniquely her own and was often loud and mismatched. Someone who attended the university with her said, “She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levis to class because they’re more comfortable, and carries her autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song, it will be handy.”
Apparently, one accessory she never went anywhere without was a bottle of the sweet, whiskey-flavored liqueur Southern Comfort. It sure came in handy when she was fighting off the lead singer of The Doors, and it got her a free coat. In fact, the Southern Comfort company was so pleased with all the free product placement, they gave her a lynx fur coat. It seemed to go perfectly with all the booze, and her psychedelic custom-painted Porsche.
3. She Changed Her Will Two Days Before She Died So Her Friends Could Party
It seems almost odd that Joplin would change her will a mere two days before she died. During the change, she made a few requests that would benefit her friends and family, with some additional wealth going to her siblings. She ended up asking for $2,500 to be set aside and used for her friends to throw a party. The request allowed 200 people to have an all-night gathering at the Lion’s Share, which was her favorite San Anselmo bar. In her words, she said it was so, “my friends can get blasted after I’m gone.” Hash Brownies were (unknowingly) shared in her honor as her friends and family mourned. Joplin ended up being cremated and her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean as well as along Stinson Beach in Northern California.
4. Jim Morrison Was Fascinated by Her, So She Broke a Bottle Over His Head
Since they were two of the biggest music stars of the 1960s, it seemed almost inevitable that Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison would get together. Producer Paul Rothchild invited them both to a party since they both liked to drink, and they had hit it off even when they were sober.
Janis had been a pleasant drunk, but Morrison often exhibited violent and obnoxious behavior. After he was rejected by Joplin since she was turned off by his behavior. and Morrison only became more interested in her. He followed her around until Joplin hit him over the head with a bottle of Southern Comfort and knocked him out. Since he as disinterested, Morrison was still incredibly set on winning her over, even asking people for her phone number saying, “What a great woman! She’s terrific!” However, Joplin really said no.
5. Despite Her Low Self-esteem, She Still Ditched Most of Her Clothes on Stage
Photographer Bob Seidemann wanted to use a photo of Joplin in order to make a statement about the idealism of hippie culture and so he asked her if she’d pose topless. Joplin decided she would just rather pose completely naked, even though she didn’t have to.
Bob Seidemann recalls, “That’s the way she was. She wanted to take her clothes off real bad.” The photo was published in 1972, a few years after her death. Joplin also had no problem taking her clothes off while performing in front of crowds of people. A concert promoter at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena remembers her being later to the stage because she had been having sex in her dressing room. When she emerged, he said that “When I got there, Janis was finally walking up to the stage. She wore a sheer netted skirt with no underwear. When the spotlight hit her, you could see everything.”