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Janis Lyn Joplin

Updated: Jun 3, 2022

(January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer and songwriter. She was one of the most successful and widely known female rock stars of her era, she was noted for her powerful mezzo-soprano vocals and "electric" stage presence. Source.

Janis Joplin's redwood-studded home at the time of her death in 1970. The hard-living rocker died at age 27 from a drug overdose in a Los Angeles hotel room. She had lived in the wood-shingled, creekside house less than two years in Larkspur in Marin County, CA.

Passers Passing Through

There were sightings of Doors' singer Jim Morrison and singer Kris Kristofferson, who wrote "Me and Bobby McGee" which became a Joplin hit after she died. Nearly 40 years later, there are still remnants of Joplin's short stay in the house, including a small bar made from redwood burl and wall paneling made by the carpenter who did much of the striking artistic woodwork that was featured in the interior of The Trident restaurant, a popular Sausalito watering hole during the 1970s. There's also a 4-foot-high dog door next to the front door that Joplin had installed for her St. Bernard. A bathroom includes a tiled sunken bath and shower below a skylight that looks out into the towering redwoods. Joplin's pool table still stands in the family room.

"She loved Marin; she bought a house in Larkspur in Baltimore Canyon. That’s when she had the Full Tilt Boogie Band and met Kris Kristofferson, who was not famous at all. We’d sit around and sing country music in her house and then we’d go out and ride in her Porsche. The three of us would ride in that car together through downtown San Rafael. Janis, Kris, and me, driving down the street, waving. It was like the procession of the Queen. Everybody knew who Janis was. Nobody really knew who I was or Kris but we had a really fun time."

Happy in Marin

Joplin complained that she was “the Queen of Unrequited Love.” There were men she wanted to marry and settle down with, but, when you were Joplin, long-term relationships weren’t in the cards. She was often depressed and unhappy about that. George-Warren writes that she once told soul singer-guitarist Bobby Womack that she used heroin because it could “bury her thoughts and deaden her from the world.” Which is not to say that she was never happy. And some of her happiest moments were in Marin County.

After fellow Texan Chet Helms brought Joplin and Big Brother together, the band lived communally in a rustic cottage in Lagunitas, just down the road from the Grateful Dead’s compound in a former children’s camp. Joplin was the first to move in. George-Warren quotes a letter she wrote to her parents: “I am now safely moved into my new room in our beautiful house in the country. I’m the only member of the band out here so far…sitting in a comfortable chair by the fireplace, doors wide open and a 180 view of trees, redwood & fir. Bliss! I’ve never felt so relaxed in my life. This is the most fantastic house & setting.”

After splitting from Big Brother, when she started making money as a rock star, Joplin tooled around in a psychedelic-painted Porsche and bought a wood-shingled house with a stone fireplace and wood beams at 380 West Baltimore Ave. in Larkspur’s Baltimore Canyon. George-Warren quotes another letter Joplin wrote to a friend, saying that “the beautifully quiet” house would provide sanctuary, helping her stay off drugs.

That didn’t happen, sadly. And Joplin must have sensed that she wouldn’t live into old age. If she had, she would have been 76 this year. After her death, her cremated remains were scattered by air off the Marin coast, as she specified in her will. She also set aside $2,500 for her friends to have a party in her honor at the Lion’s Share nightclub in San Anselmo, where, George-Warren writes, “grieving members of Big Brother and other musicians friends performed, attended by some 200 people, including her sister, Laura.”

George-Warren ends “Janis” with something Joplin said to singer Bonnie Bramlett. “In 1970, Janis acknowledged, with a new, deeper degree of self-realization, the choice she had made to become who she was, as well the limits imposed by that choice."

"You give up every constant in the world except music,’ she explained. ‘That’s the only thing in the world you’ve got.’”
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