The rock and blues legend JANIS JOPLIN was born on this date in Port Arthur, Texas (1970). Joplin’s death in October 1970 at the age of twenty-seven (which seems to be the magic number for rock stars) stunned her fans and shocked the music world, especially when coupled with the death just sixteen days earlier of another rock icon, Jimi Hendrix. Music historian Tom Moon wrote that Joplin had “a devastatingly original voice.”
Music columnist Jon Pareles of the NY Times wrote that Joplin as an artist was “overpowering and deeply vulnerable.” Author Megan Terry claimed that Joplin was the female version of Elvis Presley in her ability to captivate an audience. In San Francisco, Joplin was a regular at The Black Cat, a Lesbian bar in the Broadway strip club district.
In 1973, a book about Joplin by her publicist Myra Friedman was excerpted in many newspapers.
At the same time, Going Down With Janis by Peggy Caserta attracted a lot of attention with its opening line, which referred to her performing a sex act with Joplin while they were high on heroin in September 1970. Joplin’s band-mate Sam Andrew would later describe Caserta as “halfway between a groupie and a friend.”
According to an early 1990s statement by a close friend of Caserta and Joplin, Caserta’s book angered the Los Angeles heroin dealer she described (including the make and model of his car) in detail to her readers.
According to Ellis Amburn, in 1973 a “carful of dope dealers” visited a Los Angeles Lesbian bar Caserta had been frequenting since Joplin was alive. Amburn quoted Caserta’s friend Kim Chappell, who was in the alley behind the bar: “I was stabbed because, when Peggy’s book came out, her dealer, the same one who’d given Janis her last fix, didn’t like it that he was referred to and was out to get Peggy. He couldn’t find her, so he went for her lover. When they realized who I was, they felt that my death would also hit Peggy, and so they stabbed me.” Despite being “stabbed three times in the chest, puncturing both lungs,” Chappell eventually recovered.