The queen of rock and roll Janis Joplin was found dead in her hotel room, clutching her cigarettes in one hand and money in the other. According to the official report, she died of a heroin overdose at only 27 years.
Janis was one of the most productive music artists back in the ’60s, but the fame and glory slowly took their toll. During her best stage days, she struggled with serious substance abuse issues.
She indeed was of the most gifted and talented singer-songwriters back then. It’s sad how the world lost such a remarkable and talented woman at that young age.
Music Was Everything To Her
Janis was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on Jan. 19, 1943. As a social outcast herself, childhood made her drift to the blues. She was shy and introverted but performing on stage awakened the fire that sparkled in her.
Desperate to follow her passion for singing, she dropped out of college in January 1963. San Francisco was her next stop.
Growing up in an era such as the 1960s, where the most experimental shift in modern American music happened, only helped her to shine her light in its brightest colors.
Famous In The ’60s
At that period, Janis was the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. It seemed like this girl came out of nowhere, but nobody could deny that a new musical prodigy was about to rise.
However, nothing was as smooth as silk – being famous back then had its flaws. Janis Joplin made a formidable drinking and methamphetamine habit. She also casually ingested psychedelics before switching to heroin.
By 1966, her career skyrocketed. Everyone knew Janis Joplin, and her talent was finally getting the deserved feedback.
She even became the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company and started touring. That was the moment when the iconic Piece of My Heart was born.
I Ran Into Some Trouble
Her family scattered Janis’s ashes privately into the Pacific Ocean. And suddenly, that was all. She was gone forever, and the world couldn’t get over that terrible loss.
One of her friends, Peggy Caserta, wrote in her memoir – I Ran Into Some Trouble, that the two 20-somethings girls commonly shared the same batch of heroin.
She met Peggy Castera while browsing her next hippie outfit from a clothing store in the Haight-Ashbury district in 1965. It was an instant-friendship moment. They clicked right away and were inseparable since then.
“She was fun and outspoken and uninhibited.”
“I always thought she was pretty, but she was considered not pretty, and a lot of women thought, ‘I have a chance too.’”
But, there was something else that bothered her.
Died Of A Heroin Overdose?!
On Oct. 4, 1970, Janis was late for a recording session. The road manager John Cooke couldn’t let that all sink, so he rushed to her hotel room to remind her of their tasks.
He planned to drag her out if needed, but unfortunately, his visit ended up in letting medics do it for him.
Janis was found lying dead on her bed with a change in one hand and cigarettes in another. There were bottles of alcohol scattered around the room and a syringe, but no drugs.
According to Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi, one of her friends took that piece of evidence and removed it from the scene. He also confirmed that Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose that was compounded by alcohol.
Medical Examiners also claimed that heroin overdoses are usually slow and only occur faster when combined with other drugs. The experts believed that Janis got high, went to the hotel lobby to get change for her cigarettes, and then died in bed.
But Peggy Caserta refused to believe this story.
What Exactly Happened Here?
According to Peggy’s memoir, she arrived at the awful scene shortly after the police went there. She saw her friend’s lifeless body and couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I saw her foot sticking out at the end of the bed.”
“She was lying with cigarettes in one hand and change in the other. For years it bothered me. How could she have overdosed and then walked out to the lobby and walked back?”
Is It Possible?
The rumors after Janis’s death spread like a wildfire. There were dozens of theories about it, and everything was tangled and unclear. However, the reason for her death was indeed the overdose on an unusually potent batch of heroin.
Her friend thought that something here didn’t add up. Peggy claimed that they had a habit of sharing their batches. Believe it or not, she had used the same batch not long before Janis’s overdose. This is the reason why she found that whole overdose theory absurd.
As an overdose survivor herself, Peggy wasn’t convinced by the scene at the hotel:
“You crumble to the floor. Like how they found Philip Seymour Hoffman.”
Even after all those years, people are still asking themselves: Is this how Janis Joplin died?
What She Has Left Us
While some people still contest Janis Joplin’s causes of death, one thing is for sure – she left behind a mark that made her worth remembering.
Even after all these years, her powerful and commanding voice brings back the best memories of a whole generation. And not just our ancestors, but even millennials and younger generations cherish the recollection of her existence.