On November 9, famed vocalist Janis Joplin will have her quadruple-platinum 1971 album Pearl re-released as a box set by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, which specializes in high-end reissues, in honor of its 50th anniversary. Fans can pre-order the new vinyl boxset here.
Pearl, which came out in 1971, was Joplin’s second and final solo album. The record came out posthumously three months after her death in 1970. Joplin was 27 years old. Among other hit songs on the album is “Me and Bobby McGee” by famed songwriter, Kris Kristofferson.
“Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is honored to be a part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of Janis Joplin’s landmark recording,” said Jim Davis, president of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. “Our limited-edition, audiophile-grade vinyl box set brings out the explosive dynamics and delicate intricacies of Ms. Joplin’s powerhouse performances, allowing listeners to get closer to the singer’s music, passion, and emotions. Most importantly, this definitive version helps ensure Pearl will forever be regarded as one of the most important rock albums of all time.”
This funny, warm and achingly fragile side of the vocal powerhouse is revealed in Janis Joplin: Days & Summers, a new book that showcases the scrapbook Joplin kept during the time she shot to fame between 1966 and 1968. Packed with rare photos, articles, artifacts, letters, and in-depth commentary from friends, family and fellow rock icons, the first page features a question handwritten in her distinctive script: “Doncha wanta see me be a star?” It’s a line utterly devoid of hubris or ego. More than half a century after she put pen to paper, it’s impossible not to detect a desire to make the reader proud, and prove herself more than a misfit from a Texas oil town.
Her notes can be charmingly childlike, brimming with wonder and amazement as she gleefully takes in every moment of her ascent to rock royalty. “Your first-born is really doing great in the music business,” reads one letter to her family. “Did I tell you about all my reviews? Can I tell you again? This is all so exciting to me!”
The scrapbook is a touching self-portrait presented through mementos and small private moments, illustrating both how she saw herself and how she wanted to be seen. “You save stuff because it means something to you, and you can share it with somebody special,” says Michael. “That’s what this was for her.” For years, he and sister Laura — executors of their elder sibling’s estate — grappled with whether to keep the scrapbook private. “It’s so personal,” Michael admits. “It’s Janis’ handwriting and her notations and what she cut out of magazines with her little scissors in her apartment with her Elmer’s glue. The personal aspect is one of the reasons we hadn’t shared until now.”
‘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.