On January 11, 1971, "Pearl", Janis Joplin's last album, was released.
It's a bitter-sweet story, about Janis Joplin's most successful album, which reached number one on the Billboard 200 and stayed there for 9 weeks. An album that won rave reviews and reached 122nd place on "Rolling Stone" magazine's list of 500 greatest albums of all time. An album that produced the only Joplin's single that became a hit and topped the charts.
But it all happened too little, too late, since Janis Joplin died on October 4, 1970, three months before the album's release, and therefore did not enjoy the fruits of her hard work nor didn't witness the great success and immense love the audience felt for her.
We want to start this story precisely at a turning point in Joplin's career. In June 1967, Janis performed at the Monterey Pop Music Festival, where she gave an unforgettable live show, performing "Ball and chain" twice, at the enthusiastic request of the audience. A masterful and phenomenal performance that even left singer Mama Cass who sat in the audience, overwhelmed. This amazing show brought Joplin great publicity and huge success, so from there on her career was supposed to soar straight to the top.
Indeed, in 1968 Janis Joplin released the masterful album "Cheap Thrills" with "Big Brother and the Holding Company". The album included Joplin's tremendous songs such as: "Summertime", "Ball and Chain" and of course the unforgettable "Piece of My Heart". But then something unclear happens. Janis decides to leave the "Big Brother and the Holding Company" and embark on a solo career. This decision will eventually turn out to be very fateful.
Upon Joplin's departure, she took guitarist and songwriter Sam Andrew with her and the two formed a new band called "Kozmic Blues Band". Joplin and "Kozmic Blues Band" performed at the Woodstock Festival, in August 1969, But something did not work this time and the new band had a hard time recreating the "electricity" that was On air just two years earlier at the Monterey Festival. Joplin was so disappointed with her performance that she asked not to be included in the post-festival documentary.
Also her first solo album, "I Got Dem Ol 'Kozmic Blues Again Mama!", which was a big promise and came out about a month later in September 1969, received very cold reviews. This led Joplin's already fragile soul, straight into the arms of drugs and alcohol, which were not foreign to her.
In an attempt to solve her alcohol and heroin addiction Joplin flew to Brazil in February 1970, where she meets and falls in love with the American tourist David (George) Niehaus. For a moment things started to look good for her and she even manages to push the addictive substances out of her life. The two return to California but then Joplin returned to heroin and David decides to leave her, not before he tries to stop her from taking drugs. Of course, this move will only lead Joplin faster to the bitter end ...
Shortly after the departure of David Niehaus, Joplin's destructive instinct would lead her to disband the "Kozmic Blues Band" as well. This was also involved the dismissal of her loyal guitarist Sam Andrew, who has accompanied her since the days of "Big Brother". Joplin will form a new band called "Full Tilt Boogie Band", made up of young Canadian musicians, who will accompany her on a tour in the summer of 1970.
In September 1970, the band will enter to record Joplin's second solo album, and what will also turn out to be their latest album. As a producer, Joplin chose Paul A. Rothchild who produced "The Doors" albums, among others. Rothschild's production work will lead to a more refined and polished sound than Joplin's previous albums with "Big Brother and the Holding Company" and the "Kozmic Blues Band". Joplin and the band will be able to record 9 full songs, which along with Rothschild's professional production work, will highlight Joplin's vocal abilities. The last recording session was held on Thursday, October 1, 1970, during which Joplin recorded the a-cappella track "Mercedes Benz", the last song she recorded before her death.
Joplin was scheduled to return to the studio on October 5 to end the recordings, but on the day of the recording of the latest song, "Buried Alive in the Blues," she did not appear in the studio. Her manager felt something was wrong and drove to the hotel room where she was staying, where a horrible spectacle unfolded before his eyes. Joplin was laying beside her bed with a syringe stuck in her hand and her nose broken, apparently from a fall. It turned out that the last song she was supposed to record - "Buried Alive in the Blues" remained as an instrumental piece, as silent and chilling testimony to the tragedy that took place.
Heartbreakingly, the last love letter David Niehaus sent to Joplin, arrived at the hotel where she was staying a day after her death and it read: "Love You Mama, More Than You Know."
The album released after Joplin's death was named "Pearl" - one of the nicknames given to her by her close friends.
Joplin did not know that the album would become her best-selling and most successful one and that the song "Me and Bobby Mcgee" written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, in which Joplin also plays guitar, would become most identified with her. The song that was released after her death conquered the top of the US Billboard charts and became the second song in history to reach number one, after the death of its performer (the first was "Sittin 'On The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding).