Iconic singer Janis Joplin made her mark in Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding cities; this month Tennessee Performing Arts Center makes a mark in Nashville when the hard rocking, hard playing Joplin “returns” to Music City.
On April 15 and 16, 2016, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) presents “A Night With Janis Joplin” at the James K. Polk Theatre. The show “is a musical journey celebrating Joplin and her biggest musical influences—icons like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Bessie Smith—who inspired one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest legends.”
Janis Joplin was no stranger to Tennessee. In 1968 Joplin departed from Big Brother and the Holding Company; her first appearance with her new group, Kozmic Blues Band, was in Memphis, Tennessee in December 1968. The group stayed at the Lorraine Hotel, only a few rooms from where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took his last steps. They were booked at the Stax/Volt “Yuletide Thing.” The band was not quite prepared and did some last minute rehearsals at Studio B of Stax/Volt Records; the concert did not go well due to mechanical problems and the audience failing to connect with her music, despite her attempt to charm them. Yet Janis was reportedly happy afterward when the band attended Stax/Volt President Jimmy Stewart’s Christmas Party.
Joplin was billed as a “jazz singer” at the University of Tennessee Knoxville concert in November 1969. The Vols had just beaten the Gamecocks, and now more than 9,200 people from the sell-out crowd attended the concert at the Stokely Athletic Center on Volunteer Boulevard. Janis Joplin was the second act and, despite only scant mention in local papers, she belted out tunes from the stage set up on the big basketball court. The show ended quickly when fans mobbed the stage and destroyed stage props.
By this time Janis Joplin had three gold records and was a “name” since the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Despite the raw, sexual energy she oozed onstage, offstage she was reported to be terribly insecure, depressed, with a penchant for hard drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. She continually questioned her talent, her success, wondering if audiences truly liked her.
Joplin informed her booking agency she wanted to come to Nashville specifically for two reasons: she wanted to meet Skeeter Davis, and she wanted to meet Kris Kristofferson. On December 16, 1969 Joplin appeared at the Nashville’s Fairground’s Coliseum before a crowd of 2,500. She followed opening act Rotary Connection with Minnie Ripperton. The show was a hit and she did get her wish: Skeeter and Janis were both thrilled to meet one another. For rare concert photos, CLICK HERE.
Nashville’s Fairground’s Coliseum burned down in 1970, and that same year Janis Joplin’s light burned out forever. Joplin died in October 1970 at the age of 27 from a drug overdose. She was found dead in a Hollywood hotel room.
For tickets and more information on “A Night With Janis Joplin” CLICK HERE!
Janis Joplin fans will want to check out this website: Janis Joplin Official Site