Remembering Janis Lyn Joplin

Remembering Janis Lyn Joplin

January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970

Remembering you…

(sound clip is from Janis on the Dick Cavett Show 18 July 1969)

Janis Joplin

Janis Lyn Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas. High school was an uncomfortable place for her as a teenager in the mid-1950s. Unlike her classmates, her tastes in music gravitated toward the blues and beatniks. 

She sang in a local choir and expanded her listening to singers such as Odetta, Billie Holiday and Big Mama Thornton. In fact, years later Janis provided a headstone for Bessie Smith’s grave, who is buried in Philadelphia’s Mount Lawn cemetery.

Janis Lyn Joplin
Mount Lawn Cemetery, Sharon Hill, PA

After a couple of unsuccessful college ventures, visits to California, living in Texas again, going to NYC, and a failed marriage engagement, Janis arrived in San Francisco on June 4, 1966 to audition with Big Brother and the Holding Co. She became part of the band and her first performance with them was six days later at the Avelon Ballroom.

Remembering Janis Lyn Joplin

Big Brother & the Holding Co.

Janis and the band became local favorites and a year later on June 17, 1967 they hit the big time at the Monterrey International Pop Festival. When the movie was released in December 1968, it was Janis on the poster.

Janis Lyn Joplin

Here she is at that festival performing Ball and Chain.

And 21 months later at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, she again starred.

Remembering Janis Lyn Joplin

And only a year later, on August 12, 1970, was Janis’s last public performance. It was at Harvard Stadium, Boston with the Full Tilt Boogie Band. (story and photos from WBUR site)

Like too many of her time, the drug availability and sycophant fans were too easy to avoid. Perhaps Life seemed better with them. Life, perhaps, had become addicted to them.

On October 4, 1970 Janis Joplin was found dead of a drug overdose at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles at the age of 27 by her road manager John Cooke. (NYT obituary)

References: Joplin dot com

Remembering Janis Lyn Joplin


Johnny Preston Running Bear

Johnny Preston Running Bear

Johnny Preston Running Bear

On January 18, 1960 Running Bear by Johnny Preston became Billboard’s #1 single.


El Paso

It was the second of three consecutive #1 songs in which someone died. Previous to Running Bear,  Marty Robbins’s El Paso was #1.  Grateful Dead fans are familiar with that story:

From out of nowhere Felina has found me

Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side

Cradled by two loving arms that I’ll die for

One little kiss and Felina, good-bye,

Teen Angel

The next #1 will be Mark Dinning’s Teen Angel.

That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track

I pulled you out and we were safe but you went running back.

Running Bear

For Running Bear, the two young lovers, separated by a river that was too wide, but their love forced them to try to cross and meet.

Now their hands touched and their lips met

The swirling river, it pulled them down

Now they’ll always be together

In their happy hunting ground


The song  has some interesting trivia associated with it besides its death motif. J. P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper, wrote it.  Richardson had a hit of his own in 1958 with “Chantilly Lace.” He had died in the famous plane crash on February 3, 1959 in Clear Lake, Iowa, with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

Richardson thought the Romeo & Juliet theme of this song was too serious for him to record. He passed it on to his friend Johnny Preston, who originally was unsure about the song but others eventually persuaded him to cut it.

Richardson had done background vocals along with George Jones.

Running Bear

Preston’s follow-up single, “Cradle of Love,” reached No. 7 on the Billboard chart.

In 1971 Jonathan King took the “Ocka Chunka” backing and added it to the B.J. Thomas hit song “Hooked On A Feeling.”

Preston died on March 4, 2011 >>> NYT obit


References >>> Song facts

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
Nov. 9, 2005, President Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to boxer Muhammad Ali in the East Room of the White House. He is now so much a part of the nation’s social fabric that it’s hard to comprehend a time when Ali was more reviled than revered.
January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016
Remember the “Greatest” on his birthday

Muhammad Ali

When Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr was born in Louisville, Kentucky no one would have predicted that one day he would be the most recognized person in the world.

Boxing was the skill that brought such fame.

The legend begins with a stolen bike. A young boy wanted to get even and a cop told him he’d better learn to fight first.

As Clay, he won six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

After the Olympics, Ali went professional. Though not each of his consecutive victories was without criticism, but the end of 1963 he was next in line to fight Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship.

Because of his personality, some could still use the term uppity without recrimination, many looked forward to Clay being pummeled by Liston and getting a comeuppance.

On February 25, 1964 Ali defeated Liston.

In their May 25, 1965 re-match, Ali defeated Liston again and successfully retained his crown for 7 more bouts until 1967 when he refused to be drafted. His championship was taken away.

At this point Ali became more than a great boxer. He became a person who some admired and others decried. Listen below to David Suskind’s withering criticism of Ali.  (also see a PBS article on Ali from a broadcast called The Trials of Muhammad Ali)

I find nothing amusing or interesting or tolerable abut this man. He’s a disgrace to his country, his race, and what he laughingly describes as his profession. he is a convicted felon in the United States. He has been found guilty. He is out on bail. He will inevitably go to prison, as well he should. He is a simplistic fool and a pawn.

June 28, 1971

On June 28, 1971 the US Supreme Court reversed Ali’s conviction for refusing induction by unanimous decision in Clay v. United States. The decision was not based on, nor did it address, the merits of Clay’s/Ali’s claims per se, rather, the Government prosecution’s procedural failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained, constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.

Ali would go on to win back the heavyweight championship, lose it, and regain it again. The only boxer to hold the championship three different times.

Thank you Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali

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