‘I’m sure you’ve heard that I’m a new breed swinger now, the idol of my generation, a rock’n’roll singer. Yes fans, yes, it’s true.’ – Janis Joplin
As the first-ever female rock star who dazzled listeners with her powerful voice and fierce uninhibited style, few musicians have attained the same iconic status as Janis Joplin. Now, Janis’s personal scrapbook is revealed for the first time, compiled between 1966-1968, as the singer found her star rising.
JANIS JOPLIN: DAYS & SUMMERS
‘We’ve had Janis’s scrapbook for a long time. It was really important to her. Scrapbooks may sound quaint and old-fashioned today, but by sitting down, cutting these things out, sticking them in place and annotating them, Janis has given us a unique record of the period.’ – Michael Joplin
In her handmade scrapbook Janis Joplin created a personal record of her meteoric rise to fame and the flowering of Sixties counterculture in which she was to play a lead role. From the singer’s earliest intimate blues gigs in local coffee houses, to her first appearances with Big Brother and the Holding Company, to the band’s breakthrough performance at Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Janis’s story is remarkable. Throughout it all, she collected posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records, and annotated them with her comments.
More than 50 years later, Janis’s scrapbook is revealed for the first time. Featured alongside are previously unpublished items from her personal archive, including letters she wrote home to her family and a preceding scrapbook from her senior high school years, 1956-59. Collectively, they offer a brand new perspective on the Port Arthur girl that transformed into a rock goddess, setting the world on fire with her talent.
Genesis are proud to announce, in partnership with the Janis Joplin Estate, the forthcoming official limited edition book, Janis Joplin Scrapbook 1966-68 (working title).
Shared for the first time, Janis Joplin’s handmade scrapbook from the years 1966-1968 reveals the singer’s personal record of her meteoric success and the fascinating period of history of which she was a part.
From Janis’s earliest intimate blues gigs in local coffee houses, to her first appearances with Big Brother and the Holding Company, to the band’s breakthrough performance at Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 – which made her a rock star overnight – Janis’s story is remarkable. Throughout it all, she collected posters, souvenirs, press clippings, photographs and records. In Janis’s scrapbook you can see the Port Arthur girl transform into a rock goddess, setting the world on fire with her talent.
In a strictly limited edition of just 2,000 estate-stamped copies, Janis’s scrapbook will be reproduced in facsimile alongside further pieces from her archive. Her memorabilia will be interspersed with quotes and stories from the people who really knew her during that period and beyond, from friends, family and bandmates, to musicians, writers and photographers.
There’s something I’ve never said in all my years of reviewing theatre, and as my editor is my witness, I’ll never say it again. Here goes: All the criticisms I can offer of Zach Theatre’s A Night With Janis Joplin don’t matter. If the audience is moved to tears of joy and people are on their feet celebrating, then something special is happening, and maybe that’s okay.
At a recent preview performance, people in the audience sang along, clapped, danced, and cheered. They were pretty well on board from the beginning, but once Janis (Mary Bridget Davies) sang the first notes of “Piece of My Heart,” the deal was done. A glance around the house showed over a hundred faces being thrown back to what must have been some amazing memories with that song for a soundtrack. (Do we want to know? Possibly not.) Even my guest – someone not inclined to clap and sing along at a rock concert – was on her feet.
A lot of this is due to Davies’ turn as Janis. You can quibble with how much she looks like her or whether her physicality is spot-on, but for real, y’all: that voice. She nails it. How exactly she manages to nail it night after night without killing her instrument? No idea. In fact, she sounds more like Janis than Janis did live. Davies – who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance of the role on Broadway – takes your every memory of Joplin’s recorded music and gives a live performance so good, it may never have existed in reality. (That’s according to YouTube, because I’m too young to know firsthand. Yeah, boomers.)
The show features not just Janis, of course. It also gives us the amazing music of some of the women who influenced her, Black singers who were geniuses in their own right. To some ears, these ladies ought to have the show to themselves. That’s no slight to Davies but a nod to how remarkable the other women are – both in life and as embodied by the performers who sing with Davies in this production. Starting with “Tell Mama,” when Etta James (Tawny Dolley) struts back and forth upstage, it’s a great reminder that Janis wouldn’t have been Janis without the jaw-dropping talent of many Black women singers. With any luck, the creators of A Night With Janis Joplin will give us A Night With Aretha Franklin soon.
As a play, A Night is distinctly less than. The dialogue is thin, the plot nonexistent. Janis recites details from her life like an eighth-grade book report. The depression and addiction that led to her early death are all but unaddressed except with a few swigs from an onstage bottle.
But maybe it’s not really a play. Maybe it’s a glorified Janis impersonation, without apologies.
A Night With Janis Joplin won the award for Best Presented Production at the La Mirada Theater.
As the 2020 Ovation Awards celebrated its 30th annual ceremony, it handed top honors to Pasadena Playhouse’s “Ragtime” for best production and direction of a musical and to Fountain Theatre’s production of “Cost of Living” as best play in an intimate theater.
The festivities, held Monday night by the nonprofit L.A. Stage Alliance, took place at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and were hosted by actor George Salazar. Thirty-six awards were given to 13 Southern California theater companies. Winners were selected by local producers, directors, actors and other theater professionals chosen through an application process.
New York Times bestselling author Holly George-Warren had an intimate discussion with moderator Scott Goldman at the Grammy Museum on Monday, discussing her new book “Janis: Her Life and Music,” which was followed by a special performance by the singer Pearl. The book was released in October, preceding likely interest in a film adaptation of the Broadway musical “A Night with Janis Joplin” that will open in theaters nationwide on Nov. 5.
During the discussion, George-Warren said that she became interested in Joplin while writing liner notes for a deluxe edition of the “Pearl” album, when she got to hear some tapes brought out from the Columbia Records vaults that contained Joplin working in the studio with music producer Paul Rothchild.
“What I heard on these tapes was this guy in awe of Joplin just coming up with idea after idea in the studio, much like a producer does with an artist. And this was 1970,” George-Warren said, noting that Joplin was never likely to actually go so far as to produce herself. “In those days, it was very rare a woman ever produced a record.”
Hearing those tapes made George-Warren want to know more.“There’s this whole side to [Joplin] that I don’t think we know,” George-Warren said. “I decided I wanted to find out how this young white girl in segregated Port Arthur, Texas, a very conservative oil town in the 1950s, went on this path [and] became a blues singer.”
Joplin was born to a loving and supportive family that encouraged her to be creative. “As this young teenager, she and her friend would literally go driving around to the radio stations late at night and ask the DJs if they’d want some coffee, ’cause she wanted to find out about records,” George-Warren said. “And Beaumont had some great black stations. Again, things were quite segregated, but they would find these left of the dial stations where it was black music, and that was what really turned her on.”
Listening to black music would lead Joplin to discover her favorite music inspirations, like Big Mama Thornton, the original singer of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” and Otis Redding.
“[Redding] was such a huge impact on both her sound and performance style,” George-Warren said. “When she got to see him — I think three nights in a row at the Fillmore in San Francisco — she was, as Prince liked to say, ‘gob-smacked.’”
Joplin did not start pursuing music professionally until after age 18 when she dropped out of college and journeyed on her own to Austin, Texas. She met Powell St. John, who after hearing her sing, asked her to join his band, the Waller Creek Boys. They started performing around the local college campus before booking the Threadgill bar, where she would first meet music promoter Chet Helms.
“She just really learned how to win over audiences in Austin and that really put her on her path that would lead to San Francisco,” George-Warren said.
In 1963, Joplin had no support. She was far away from her family, struggling with a heroin addiction while making $5 playing shows that she booked herself. When the drugs reduced her weight to 88 pounds, she was forced to return home.
“When she came back in ’65 from San Francisco, she knew that she was very close to death,” George-Warren said. “She couldn’t stay away from the music. She started performing in Houston clubs, first in Beaumont.” That is when a longtime friend of hers from high school published a review of her performance in an Austin newspaper, opening the door for her to receive more bookings in Austin.
“When she had left, everything was acoustic, but at this point now the Beatles had come out; everybody was forming bands and playing electric guitars,” George-Warren said. “For her, it was like a lightning bolt going up her body. I mean, she totally transformed her performance style. She started moving around, dancing.”
In the midst of Joplin’s second coming, Helms reconnected with Joplin. By this time, he was managing Big Brother and the Holding Company. “He sent an emissary from San Francisco to come and collect Janis and take her back there and that was in June of 1966. So she goes back and joins Big Brother and the rest is history,” George-Warren said.
Joplin was a risk-taker onstage and off. She was polyamorous, having relationships with both men and women. For Joplin, no matter what, music always came first.
CineLife Entertainment®, the event cinema division of Spotlight
Cinema Networks and BroadwayHD® announce
the theatrical release of the popular Broadway musical, A Night with
Janis Joplin, in U.S. theaters beginning November 5th.
Janis Joplin exploded onto the
music scene in 1967 and instantly became the Queen of Rock & Roll. The
unmistakable voice, filled with raw emotion and tinged with southern comfort,
made her a must-see headliner from Monterey to Woodstock over 50 years ago.
A Night with Janis Joplin follows
the icon’s rise to fame and pays tribute to some of her biggest musical
influences — legends like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and
The film was directed by Emmy® Award Winner
David Horn and stars Mary Bridget Davies, Broadway’s
original Janis, in her Tony Award®-nominated role. The stage production was written and directed by Randy Johnson, choreographed by Patricia Wilcox, and produced for the stage by La Mirada Theatre for the
Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment in association with T&D
Productions, LLC. The production was presented in further association with The
Estate of Janis Joplin and Jeffrey Jampol of JAM, Inc. Since its premiere in 2011,
A Night with Janis Joplin has received multiple nominations/awards
and has been seen at sold out engagements nationwide. The show is currently on
its third national tour.
Entertainment’s Executive Vice President, Bernadette McCabe said: “Janis Joplin
was an iconic, soulful rock and blues singer and a huge influence on our
culture. She lives on in this Broadway to cinema production as if she were
standing right in front of you today.”
BroadwayHD’s co-founders and Tony Award®
winners’ Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane comment: “We are absolutely thrilled
to bring this production to life and share it on the big screen. It captures
the electricity and life of the show.”
Janis’ siblings Laura and Michael took part in the
production and found rare live recordings that influenced the musical:
“I am thrilled that A Night with Janis Joplin
is coming to the big screen. The show brings a lift to my spirit. Dancing
in the aisles is a must!” – Michael Joplin
“Let’s Rock Together! The film’s
closeup and wide-angle shots create intense, intimate moments, where we join
the audience’s connection with Janis.” – Laura Joplin
Bridget Davies will also be releasing a new album in 2020! The first “double
sided” single from the upcoming
album “Stay With Me: The Reimagined Songs of Jerry Ragovoy” will be
released on October 25th, 2019, which includes the never before released “The Right Of
Way” and a Ragovoy classic: “Stay With Me”. The album consists of rare,
reimagined arrangements and some never before released Jerry Ragovoy songs. Mr.
Ragovoy was the legendary hit songwriter for such legendary Joplin classics like “A Piece Of My
Heart”, “Cry Baby”, and “Stay With Me”, prominently featured in the
Broadway musical, A Night With Janis Joplin. Mary Bridget
Davies will be live in concert for the single release at Le Poisson Rouge on
October 26 at 8:00pm.
Janis Joplin is undoubtedly a musical powerhouse. For many music fans though she remains a distant figurehead of music, one that is so rarely talked about and thrust upon the present day, unlike acts like The Doors or The Grateful Dead. However, if there was one sure fired way to understand why every muso worth their weight in musical notes loves Janis, it is to watch this incredible live performance of ‘Cry Baby’.
The track was originally sung by Garnett Mims and The Enchanters but only truly found notoriety when Joplin picked up the mic and added her own unique lungs to the track’s proceedings. Recorded by Joplin for her solo record Pearl Joplin would sadly pass away before the single was released in 1971, backed by the B-Side ‘Mercedes Benz’. It remains today one of the most powerful ballads you’re likely to hear.
“So what?” We hear you (stupidly) ask. Well, the difference between Janis Joplin and pretty much every other singer since was that above all else, Joplin saw herself as a vocal artist. She was not at the front of the stage for glory or gold, she was under that spotlight so she could use her vocal brush strokes to paint a raw, emotive and impassioned picture. There’s no better canvas for Joplin than a song like ‘Cry Baby’.
The Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe will present the upcoming autumn exhibition: On the Road with Janis Joplin: Photographs by her road manager, John Byrne Cooke, opening October 4 from 5-7 pm.
John Byrne Cooke experienced the 1960s within the music of the counterculture. As a musician and rock road manager during this turbulent decade, Cooke was always taking photographs. His subjects span the transition from folk music to rock, including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, to traditional musicians such as Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt and many more.
As a member of the Charles River Valley Boys bluegrass band in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his musical home was the legendary Club 47, one of the principal wellsprings of the folk music boom. When folk gave way to rock and roll, Cooke moved to San Francisco, home of the Haight-Ashbury and acid rock, to become the road manager for Big Brother and the Holding Company and Janis Joplin. He wasn’t just another photographer hanging around in rehearsals and backstage, or trying to shoot from the wings during a concert. He wasn’t an outsider in the company of musicians. Cooke was a musician himself. He belonged.
Cooke’s photographs reveal his unique perspective of these luminaries of folk and rock, shown both in performance and in private moments offstage, including a photograph of Joplin two days before Cooke found her dead from a fatal heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. In recent years, Cooke’s photographs have appeared in books, magazines and television documentaries. His work offers a new archive of affectionate and revealing images from the fabled Sixties. Cooke died in September 2017.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival will screen rarely seen film shorts of Janis Joplin. While traveling as her road manager, Cooke filmed Joplin and her band members on Fuji Single-8 film. This film has color superior to Kodak Super-8 and is undimmed by the passage of 40 years. His footage provides a unique and intimate view of Joplin offstage as well as on.