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43 Years Ago Today: Janis Joplin in San Diego

43 years ago today (9-28-68): Big Brother and the Holding Company were scheduled to play a sold-out show at downtown's Community Concourse. The afternoon before the show, Janis Joplin announced to the press her intention to quit the band.

Image "I told you, you remember, that I was going to do a thing of my own," she wrote in a letter to her family dated the same day (and published by her sister in the book Love, Janis). "There'll be a whole lot of pressure because of the 'vibes' created by my leaving Big Brother and also how big I am now." (The band's album Cheap Thrills was number one on the Billboard charts, where it remained for eight weeks.)

Joplin explained in the letter that "It's to be set up [so] I'm a corporation called Fantality, which will hire all the musicians and pay all the bills. Much more responsibility, but also much more chance of making money for me as my price goes up.... Albert [Grossman, manager] told me -- are you ready? -- that I should make a half million next year, counting record royalties."

Her final gig with Big Brother took place in San Francisco two months later.

Image Janis returned to San Diego 3-29-69, appearing at the Sports Arena for one of the first West Coast concerts with her new group, the Kozmic Blues Band.

"Janis was flirting with a lethal combination of drugs, alcohol, and heroin," wrote Joplin's sister Laura of that period in her book Love, Janis. "Linda Gravenites found Janis purple on the floor one day in March. At least she knew how to revive Janis from a heroin overdose.... The media pressure might have been one reason she gave herself for increasing her use of heroin."

Also in March '69, the New York Times ran an article quoting Joplin: "Yeah, I know I might be going too fast. That's what a doctor said.... I don't go back to him anymore. Man, I'd rather have ten years of superhypermost [sic] than live to be seventy by sitting in some [expletive] chair watching TV."

The Kozmic Blues Band appeared in San Diego with Janis one other time (October 4, '69), exactly one year before her death.

Image 7-11-70 – Janis Joplin made her final San Diego appearance at the Sports Arena on this night, backed by her new group the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Ticket prices were $3.75 to $5.50.

Also on the bill were her old band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, whose guitarist Sam Andrew, had quit Big Brother for awhile to join Janis’s shortlived Kozmic Blues Band

“Sam said the drinking was beginning to show in Janis’s body and she was gaining weight again,” according to Joplin’s sister Laura in Love, Janis. “Sam also recalled the puffy red skin that she had, a clear sign of excessive alcohol consumption. The emotional roller coaster was still going fast for Janis. High and then low, she struggled to maintain an equilibrium.”

Joining Joplin at the Sports Arena was longtime Doors producer Paul Rothchild, who was being considered to work on her next album. “In San Diego,” says Laura, “Janis gave him a stopwatch, saying ‘Look, I’ve got thirty-five good minutes in me. You stand behind the amps and I’ll look you over, you flash me how much time I have left.’ Paul thought it was a good sign that she was pacing herself like a runner.”

Rothchild later said of watching Joplin in San Diego, “She was singing and I was enraptured, because I was listening to one of the most brilliant vocalists I ever heard, in classical, pop, or jazz music. What a voice…all of the woman was revealed. The vessel of Janis vanished. For somebody like me, who was always talking about the inner beauty and all that stuff, it got me big. So I was totally hooked from that moment on, on every single possible level.”

Rothchild would work on Joplin’s final album Pearl, including her only number one single, “Me and Bobby McGee.”

“The presence of old friends in San Diego had energized her for the airplane journey back to San Francisco,” according to Laura Joplin. “She bought drinks for everyone. [Big Brother guitarist] James Gurley found her too exuberant, as though desperately trying to be the life of the party.”

One month later, on August 12, the Full Tilt Boogie Band’s equipment was stolen in Boston, and the group performed at Harvard Stadium with borrowed gear. It was Joplin’s last public appearance with the group; she died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles October 4, 1970.

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43 years ago today (9-28-68): Big Brother and the Holding Company were scheduled to play a sold-out show at downtown's Community Concourse. The afternoon before the show, Janis Joplin announced to the press her intention to quit the band.

Image "I told you, you remember, that I was going to do a thing of my own," she wrote in a letter to her family dated the same day (and published by her sister in the book Love, Janis). "There'll be a whole lot of pressure because of the 'vibes' created by my leaving Big Brother and also how big I am now." (The band's album Cheap Thrills was number one on the Billboard charts, where it remained for eight weeks.)

Joplin explained in the letter that "It's to be set up [so] I'm a corporation called Fantality, which will hire all the musicians and pay all the bills. Much more responsibility, but also much more chance of making money for me as my price goes up.... Albert [Grossman, manager] told me -- are you ready? -- that I should make a half million next year, counting record royalties."

Her final gig with Big Brother took place in San Francisco two months later.

Image Janis returned to San Diego 3-29-69, appearing at the Sports Arena for one of the first West Coast concerts with her new group, the Kozmic Blues Band.

"Janis was flirting with a lethal combination of drugs, alcohol, and heroin," wrote Joplin's sister Laura of that period in her book Love, Janis. "Linda Gravenites found Janis purple on the floor one day in March. At least she knew how to revive Janis from a heroin overdose.... The media pressure might have been one reason she gave herself for increasing her use of heroin."

Also in March '69, the New York Times ran an article quoting Joplin: "Yeah, I know I might be going too fast. That's what a doctor said.... I don't go back to him anymore. Man, I'd rather have ten years of superhypermost [sic] than live to be seventy by sitting in some [expletive] chair watching TV."

The Kozmic Blues Band appeared in San Diego with Janis one other time (October 4, '69), exactly one year before her death.

Image 7-11-70 – Janis Joplin made her final San Diego appearance at the Sports Arena on this night, backed by her new group the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Ticket prices were $3.75 to $5.50.

Also on the bill were her old band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, whose guitarist Sam Andrew, had quit Big Brother for awhile to join Janis’s shortlived Kozmic Blues Band

“Sam said the drinking was beginning to show in Janis’s body and she was gaining weight again,” according to Joplin’s sister Laura in Love, Janis. “Sam also recalled the puffy red skin that she had, a clear sign of excessive alcohol consumption. The emotional roller coaster was still going fast for Janis. High and then low, she struggled to maintain an equilibrium.”

Joining Joplin at the Sports Arena was longtime Doors producer Paul Rothchild, who was being considered to work on her next album. “In San Diego,” says Laura, “Janis gave him a stopwatch, saying ‘Look, I’ve got thirty-five good minutes in me. You stand behind the amps and I’ll look you over, you flash me how much time I have left.’ Paul thought it was a good sign that she was pacing herself like a runner.”

Rothchild later said of watching Joplin in San Diego, “She was singing and I was enraptured, because I was listening to one of the most brilliant vocalists I ever heard, in classical, pop, or jazz music. What a voice…all of the woman was revealed. The vessel of Janis vanished. For somebody like me, who was always talking about the inner beauty and all that stuff, it got me big. So I was totally hooked from that moment on, on every single possible level.”

Rothchild would work on Joplin’s final album Pearl, including her only number one single, “Me and Bobby McGee.”

“The presence of old friends in San Diego had energized her for the airplane journey back to San Francisco,” according to Laura Joplin. “She bought drinks for everyone. [Big Brother guitarist] James Gurley found her too exuberant, as though desperately trying to be the life of the party.”

One month later, on August 12, the Full Tilt Boogie Band’s equipment was stolen in Boston, and the group performed at Harvard Stadium with borrowed gear. It was Joplin’s last public appearance with the group; she died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles October 4, 1970.

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