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44 years ago this week: Janis Joplin in San Diego

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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.

"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.


MORE JANIS IN SAN DIEGO

3-29-69: Janis Joplin appeared 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."

Joplin and the Kozmic Blues Band appeared in San Diego one other time (October 4, 1969), exactly one year before her death.


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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. "I remember flying home with Janis, Nick Gravenites, Mike Bloomfield et alia from this one," recalls Andrew at samsblog.com.

"Bloomers was on a roll. He was ranting in that special Bloomfieldian style about taping two balloons full of lukewarm water to a bathroom mirror and masturbating into the sink. You know, typical inflight conversation. It was something else to have Big Brother and Full Tilt in that same small tight space. Good thing we all loved each other. Of course, in those days you could smoke and the flight attendants wore miniskirts. If I remember correctly, there was even a piano bar upstairs. Seat belts were only for taking off and landing, and sometimes not even then."

According to Joplin’s sister Laura in her book Love, Janis, “Sam [Andrew] said the drinking was beginning to show in Janis’s body and she was gaining weight again...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.

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According to San Diego Comic-Con co-founder Mike Towry, "Michael Dorf, younger brother of Comic-Con's [co-founder] Shel Dorf, used to do freelance interviews with rock musicians and singers in the L.A. area for CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] back in the sixties and early seventies. He would record them on tape and send them to CBC for broadcast but as a freelancer he kept the rights. Anyway, Michael recorded one of the last interviews with Janis Joplin but it's never been heard."

"Michael told me that, during the interview, Janis was speaking enthusiastically about doing drugs. Then, when she overdosed before he had a chance to send the tape-recording off to CBC, he felt like it wouldn't be right to air that interview considering what happened to her so he just put the recording in storage where it remains to this day: untouched and unheard."


RELATED STORIES ON THE READER WEBSITE:

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THE DAY NIRVANA PLAYED OFF THE RECORD: 10-24-91 - Detailed feature on Nirvana playing a tiny local record store, just as their first album was hitting the charts, featuring interviews with OTR staffers, rare video footage of the event, and more... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-day-nirvana-played-at-off-the-record

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THE DAY JIMI HENDRIX CAME TO TOWN - 5-24-69: From my extensive interviews with Hendrix bassist Noel Redding, here's the inside scoop on a legendary (and highly bootlegeed) local concert... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-day-jimi-hendrix-came-to-town

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THE DAY BEACH BOY BRIAN WILSON GOT BUSTED IN BALBOA PARK: In June 1978, Brian Wilson - without telling his wife or fellow bandmembers - decided (inexplicably) to escape his life entirely and hitchhike to Mexico. He wound up in San Diego a few days later, mentally fogged, barefoot, and unwashed. “He was on a binge," according to Stephen Love, brother of Beach Boy Mike Love and sometime-band manager..... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/18/the-day-beach-boy-brian-wilson-got-busted

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THE DAY THE MONKEES TURNED DEL MAR INTO CLARKSVILLE: 9-11-66 - Del Mar was renamed “Clarksville” for the day, as part of a promotion for the Monkees TV show, which would debut the following night. The Sunday event marked the first time the foursome ever performed music in public.... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/16/day-the-monkees-turned-del-mar-into-clarksville

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THE DAY ELVIS PRESLEY MADE HISTORY IN SAN DIEGO - Research into Elvis Presley’s first-ever California concerts, over the first week of April 1956, has yielded new material about the San Diego dates, including unpublished photos of the rock icon backstage at the long-gone San Diego Arena at Eighth and Harbor... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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WHY MEXICANS HATED ELVIS - May 1959: While Elvis Presley’s popularity in the U.S. was arguably at its all-time peak, Mexico was in the midst of a huge anti-Elvis backlash. Tijuana tabloids called him a racist and homosexual, after the singer reportedly told gossip columnist Federico de León "I'd rather kiss three black girls than a Mexican." A Mexican woman in the same column was quoted saying "I'd rather kiss three dogs than one Elvis Presley”..... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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RANDY CALIFORNIA AND SPIRIT IN SAN DIEGO - Spirit has been my favorite band for over 30 years now. I’ve come to feel the same way about guitarist/bandleader Randy California that Deadheads feel about Jerry Garcia, a performer inexplicably linked to Spirit only by virtue of both bands having dedicated jam-fan followings. I can’t stand the Dead, or most jam bands for that matter, but Spirit were far above and beyond mere hippie trailz and melting muzik... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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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.

"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.


MORE JANIS IN SAN DIEGO

3-29-69: Janis Joplin appeared 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."

Joplin and the Kozmic Blues Band appeared in San Diego one other time (October 4, 1969), exactly one year before her death.


None

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. "I remember flying home with Janis, Nick Gravenites, Mike Bloomfield et alia from this one," recalls Andrew at samsblog.com.

"Bloomers was on a roll. He was ranting in that special Bloomfieldian style about taping two balloons full of lukewarm water to a bathroom mirror and masturbating into the sink. You know, typical inflight conversation. It was something else to have Big Brother and Full Tilt in that same small tight space. Good thing we all loved each other. Of course, in those days you could smoke and the flight attendants wore miniskirts. If I remember correctly, there was even a piano bar upstairs. Seat belts were only for taking off and landing, and sometimes not even then."

According to Joplin’s sister Laura in her book Love, Janis, “Sam [Andrew] said the drinking was beginning to show in Janis’s body and she was gaining weight again...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.

None

According to San Diego Comic-Con co-founder Mike Towry, "Michael Dorf, younger brother of Comic-Con's [co-founder] Shel Dorf, used to do freelance interviews with rock musicians and singers in the L.A. area for CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] back in the sixties and early seventies. He would record them on tape and send them to CBC for broadcast but as a freelancer he kept the rights. Anyway, Michael recorded one of the last interviews with Janis Joplin but it's never been heard."

"Michael told me that, during the interview, Janis was speaking enthusiastically about doing drugs. Then, when she overdosed before he had a chance to send the tape-recording off to CBC, he felt like it wouldn't be right to air that interview considering what happened to her so he just put the recording in storage where it remains to this day: untouched and unheard."


RELATED STORIES ON THE READER WEBSITE:

None

None

THE DAY NIRVANA PLAYED OFF THE RECORD: 10-24-91 - Detailed feature on Nirvana playing a tiny local record store, just as their first album was hitting the charts, featuring interviews with OTR staffers, rare video footage of the event, and more... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-day-nirvana-played-at-off-the-record

None

THE DAY JIMI HENDRIX CAME TO TOWN - 5-24-69: From my extensive interviews with Hendrix bassist Noel Redding, here's the inside scoop on a legendary (and highly bootlegeed) local concert... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-day-jimi-hendrix-came-to-town

None

THE DAY BEACH BOY BRIAN WILSON GOT BUSTED IN BALBOA PARK: In June 1978, Brian Wilson - without telling his wife or fellow bandmembers - decided (inexplicably) to escape his life entirely and hitchhike to Mexico. He wound up in San Diego a few days later, mentally fogged, barefoot, and unwashed. “He was on a binge," according to Stephen Love, brother of Beach Boy Mike Love and sometime-band manager..... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/18/the-day-beach-boy-brian-wilson-got-busted

None

THE DAY THE MONKEES TURNED DEL MAR INTO CLARKSVILLE: 9-11-66 - Del Mar was renamed “Clarksville” for the day, as part of a promotion for the Monkees TV show, which would debut the following night. The Sunday event marked the first time the foursome ever performed music in public.... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/16/day-the-monkees-turned-del-mar-into-clarksville

None

THE DAY ELVIS PRESLEY MADE HISTORY IN SAN DIEGO - Research into Elvis Presley’s first-ever California concerts, over the first week of April 1956, has yielded new material about the San Diego dates, including unpublished photos of the rock icon backstage at the long-gone San Diego Arena at Eighth and Harbor... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

None

WHY MEXICANS HATED ELVIS - May 1959: While Elvis Presley’s popularity in the U.S. was arguably at its all-time peak, Mexico was in the midst of a huge anti-Elvis backlash. Tijuana tabloids called him a racist and homosexual, after the singer reportedly told gossip columnist Federico de León "I'd rather kiss three black girls than a Mexican." A Mexican woman in the same column was quoted saying "I'd rather kiss three dogs than one Elvis Presley”..... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

None

RANDY CALIFORNIA AND SPIRIT IN SAN DIEGO - Spirit has been my favorite band for over 30 years now. I’ve come to feel the same way about guitarist/bandleader Randy California that Deadheads feel about Jerry Garcia, a performer inexplicably linked to Spirit only by virtue of both bands having dedicated jam-fan followings. I can’t stand the Dead, or most jam bands for that matter, but Spirit were far above and beyond mere hippie trailz and melting muzik... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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I got to see Janis at Newport '69 at Devonshire Downs, Northridge in June of that year. It's a bit of a blur, though. And Hendrix was there.

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