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Janis Joplin

In one of her trademark tunes, "Piece of My Heart," Janis Joplin proclaimed, "I'm gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough," and she went on to prove it in her life, playing by men's rules and exercising her rather varied appetites -- musical and otherwise -- whenever the spirit moved her. Perhaps that allowed her to feel things that few white women would admit to, let alone express. A fifth generation Texan, born in the deep water anchorage town of Port Arthur, Joplin always had one of her tiny high-heels firmly placed on the open road. A noisy and wildly talented harbinger of the burgeoning cultural revolution, she turned her back on small town life and hitchhiked to San Francisco with the equally atavistic impresario Chet Helms. With Helms' help, she hooked up with bluesy folk rock combo Big Brother and the Holding Company, sharpening their rather soft psychedelic edges and transforming the group into a firebrand outfit that would make a huge mark on the 1960s' musical landscape. Joplin took her cues from the blues greats, grafting the sensual rhythms of Bessie Smith and the defiance of Willie Mae Thornton to a pulsating rock beat. The world noticed what the wild-haired... See More

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