It was recently announced that Amy Adams would play Janis Joplin in an upcoming biopic about the singer’s life and untimely death. But, how much does the average person (especially a millennial) actually know about Joplin? Probably very little.
1. She started in folk music
If you’ve ever heard Joplin let out one of her screeches and launch into a soulful tune, it might be hard to imagine her as anything other than the rock star she was before her death. But, Joplin started out in a much humbler and quieter area of music.
2. Joplin wasn’t exactly always a rebel, either
On what would have been her 70th birthday, the news in her home town of Port Arthur, Texas, interviewed one of her former classmates and visited the museum built in her honor. While Joplin may have later been at the forefront of a counterculture, in school she was just another good girl. She was an outstanding student and the editor of the school paper. In order words, she was a regular Rory Gilmore.
3. But, she certainly stood out
Good girl with good grades can only get you so far in middle and high school. She may not have gotten heavy into the drug scene yet, but Joplin was different. She showed up to school in jeans, something still frowned upon at the time and refused to flip her hair and act prim. Add on a few “extra” pounds above what was considered normal and a rough case of acne and she was soon the outcast, whether she wanted to be or not. In college, some cruel individuals even named her “ugliest man on campus.”
4. Her dating life was pretty interesting
During the earlier part of her musical career, Joplin lived in the famed San Francisco community around Haight-Ashbury with her then-boyfriend, singer Country Joe McDonald. According to some rumors and one interesting 20/20 Downtown interview from 2000, though, Joplin also had secret affairs with women. As a matter of fact, her longest relationship was with her neighbor, Peggy Caserta. Although, she would also go on to have one-night stands with the likes of Jim Morrison and Kris Kristofferson.
5. Her big break came in Monterey in 1967
In early 1967, Joplin was still relatively unknown outside of her neighborhood. One smashing performance would change that forever, though. Check out this song from the set.
6. She broke ground for women in rock
Before Joplin, female rock stars were unheard of. Plain Jane Janis, however, quickly joined the ranks of the boys club of rock and roll. She went from being chastised at home to worshipped across the globe. She even posed nude as one of the first hippie pinup girls. And, you know how Carrie and Samantha spoke openly about their sex lives on Sex and the City? Joplin helped pave the way for that freedom by pushing back against social norms on what women talk about and speaking freely about her regular one-night stands.
7. She loved Tina Turner
Apparently, Joplin credited Turner as one of her influences. Even if her love didn’t run quite that deep, she still had a solid appreciation for the singer. As a matter of fact, when asked during an interview what concert she’d most like to go to, she named a still relatively unheard of Tina Turner. She very politely schooled the ignorant interviewer on Turner’s existence. And check out that facial expression when she refers to Ike as Tina’s “bandleader.”
Want to know even more about Joplin’s life? Looks like we’re going to have to wait patiently for that upcoming biopic.