Joplin Tune 3 Letters
Joplin Tune 3 Letters – August 12, 1970, was a hot day in Cambridge. But temperatures have cooled into the 70s by sunset, perfect weather for the crowd at Harvard Stadium, where Janis Joplin and her newly formed Full Tilt Boogie Band will make their first local appearance together—part of the one-year Schaefer Music Festival. season — completing a series of shows that summer before heading to the recording studio.
It turned out that the music gods were busy working late, making sure it was a concert no one would forget. That afternoon, the sound equipment in the south end zone of the stadium was stolen. After replacement speakers and amps finally arrived that night, and the opening two acts had been played, Joplin put on his final concert, not just on tour, but forever. He and the band spent September recording the album “Pearl,” but Joplin died, reportedly from a combination of heroin and alcohol, on October 4 at the age of 27.
Joplin Tune 3 Letters
Between my sophomore and junior year at Emerson College, I had scored a summer job on security detail at the Schaefer Music Festival. I was one of the Red Shirts—a bright red t-shirt, a big white peace sign in the center—hired to keep people from jumping over the chain-link fence so they wouldn’t have to pay a $2 admission ticket, then, at concert time, to stand near the stage, blocking fans out. too eager to climb the stairs.
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Full transparency: I am, at best, ineffective in my work. During previous concerts that summer (Ten Years After and Van Morrison come to mind), if a would-be gate crasher offered me a mix, I would accept it, then turn around for a moment. As soon as the show started, I’d slip away from my post, take a “civilian” T-shirt out of my pocket, put it over the red one, and sit in the crowd.
But for Joplin, I showed my best behavior, at least for my duties on stage. First, because management warned us that fans were starting to get nervous over delays in sound equipment. Second, because I’m a Joplin fan. I’ve seen him play with Big Brother and Holding Company at Ridge Arena in Braintree, and with the Kozmic Blues Band at Woodstock, and feel I have an allegiance to him. No one, among the reported 33,000 people at Harvard Stadium, would pass me and take the stage.
But that determination was never put to the test because, for reasons never explained, after the performance of the band Gas Mask and Eagle — with wobbly replacement equipment — management put a half dozen of us right on stage, in the midst of roadies that brought more support. voice, and gave directions to “protect” Joplin.
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Joplin, however, need not be protected; he needed the show to start. He has to show his soul to his fans. The band was nowhere to be seen, but Joplin came onstage, pacing behind, sipping from a paper cup (Another Red Shirt later told me he saw her with a bottle of J&B scotch instead of her usual Southern Comfort).
Our command, apart from protecting him, is, “Don’t mix with talent, don’t even talk to talent.” So, we stayed away from him. But the host of the evening, WMEX DJ Bud Ballou, frustrated by the delays, and running out of reasons to calm the crowd, seemed to need someone to talk to. “I will tell the truth,” he told the crowd at one point. “Janis, and everyone else, is here. We’re not stalling because Janis didn’t show up, or anything like that. Everyone is here.” After the announcement later, he came up to me, waved his hand at the crowd, and asked in disbelief, “Can you see all the purple fog out there?”
It’s hard to remember how much time passed or what happened on stage between the end of the Eagle set and the start of Joplin. There were loud and incomprehensible screams coming from the stands, there were Frisbees hovering over the pitch, and the sight of the purple fog becoming the smell of marijuana wafting throughout the stadium. The Full Tilt Boogie Band members slowly gathered near the pile of toolboxes. At around 10:30 pm, past Ballou, they and Joplin came up on stage.
And he took no prisoners. The short, over-and-a-half-hour show — consisting of a few songs fans know, some of his own favorites, and new material he’s about to record for “Pearl” — is a raucous affair. She launched an upbeat cover of Etta James’ “Tell Mama” and screamed, then slowed her pace, but not her energy level, on John Hall’s “Half Moon.” Joplin, like the band and its name, is on the rise. The crowd loved whatever he did, even the songs they had never heard before.
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Joplin uttered a few rambling words about boredom with “social and political and religious settings,” leading to one of the new—a powerhouse, mostly acapella version of “Mercedes Benz,” followed by a potential vocal-ripping- shreds, a rough take of his own “My Baby,” and some funny chatter about his days in San Francisco when he would “go to the streets looking for a little talent.” Both “Try (Just A Little Louder)” and “Maybe” are comparative low points in a concert full of high points, but the audience’s enthusiasm never waned, and they ate the ragged “Summertime” song.
I’ve been told he closed the show with “Piece of My Heart,” but I don’t remember hearing it. That’s probably because his “Summertime” covers have always been my favorite; it could be that memories get a little rusty after 50 years. The vision I still have of the ending is the empty space on the stage, where, for the previous half hour or so, Joplin had held the sway—singing, groaning, howling, one with the music and the audience. Then he left, and I would never see him perform again. Unfortunately, neither do other people.
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This series of articles—32 in total—covers every artist who performed at the original Woodstock festival August 15-18, 1969. Appearing before Janis on Day 2 was Creedence Clearwater Revival, featuring all of their incredible swamp rock hits. After Janis came Sly and the Family Stone… and the day wasn’t over yet.
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This woman needs no introduction, then or now. He’s arguably one of the acts that most people come to Woodstock to see. So, at around 02.00 on Sunday, August 17th, Janis finally came on stage.
In 1962, Janis and her friend Chet Helms (who later became one of San Francisco’s biggest concert promoters) hitched a ride to California, a trip that would change Janis forever. He hung out with beatniks and musicians in San Francisco and Venice, and experienced things that were otherwise quite foreign to a middle-class white kid from Port Arthur, Texas. He continued to hone his singing style and became known as a very wild kid, addicted to hard drugs like heroin and speed, and booze to boot. But that voice…everyone loved her voice.
In early 1965, his friends, including Jorma Kaukonen (who later became lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane), were so worried that he would become a victim of drugs, they urged him to return to Texas. So, unannounced, Janis returned to her parents’ home in Port Arthur. He went back to school, quit drugs, and started playing small clubs in Beaumont and Austin as a solo act, accompanying himself to play guitar.
The quiet interlude did not last long. When San Francisco Bay area band Big Brother and the Holding Company went looking for a singer, Janis’ old school friend Chet Helms contacted her. Janis returned to California and became the lead singer of Big Brother in June 1966. But the show didn’t last long. In the late summer of 1968, Janis announced that she would be leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company. He’s only been with them for two years and two albums, and his official reason for wanting to leave is because he feels ready to start a solo career. However, there is a bit more to the story. In addition to increasing drug use, the people at Big Brother are also walking that terrible path. Janis felt trapped by the band’s repertoire and their refusal to change their sound. He wants to spoil something