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58 Vintage Photos

Icons | November 5, 2018

Written by Brian Gilmore

The unkempt grace of a classic photo, be it a candid shot or a still production image, gives an insight into the life of a star that can’t be gleaned from an interview or behind the scenes footage. Photos have a way of making a moment feel intimate, even if it’s being used to promote a hot new single. 

The following photos are from different eras, and they’re made up of different styles and stock, but each one of them gives you a look inside the lives of someone that you’ve only seen from the other side of a screen. Regardless of which decade you prefer, the 60s, 70s or 80s, there's something on here that'll take you back to a simpler time, if only for a moment. 

Janis Joplin with her bottle of Southern Comfort and a cigarette while a paper airplane flies across the room from John Simon in 1968, photo by Elliot Landy. 

Source: Reddit

1968 was a major year for Janis Joplin. After performing with Big Brother and the Holding Company for two years, Joplin finally broke out as a star and started garnering major attention from the media, with Time calling her the “most powerful singer to emerge from the white rock movement.” If you’ve heard Big Brother and the Holding Company’s breakthrough album “Cheap Thrills,” then you’ve heard her work with John Simon, a producer who excelled at getting raw performances out of his artists, on blazing tracks like “Piece of My Heart” and “Summertime.”

While she was alive, Joplin was never far away from a bottle of Southern Comfort, and she supposedly even got a free lynx coat and matching hat from the whiskey liqueur company for all the free publicity she provided with all of that day (and night) drinking. No one knows (or was keeping track of) how much Soco Joplin was drinking while she recorded “Cheap Thrills” with John Simms at the boards, but you can hear her whiskey-soaked vocals on every track of the album.

This photo must have been taken on a break from recording “Cheap Thrills,” a below-the-radar album that managed to sit at the top of the charts for eight weeks in 1968, based exclusively on Joplin’s whiskey soaked voice. The album must have been a blast to record, if for no other reason than the fact that Joplin was a groovy gal who knew how to party. It’s a wonder that the band was able to get seven songs pressed to wax while having such a good time. 

It’s safe to say that you can’t find a singer today who’s willing to slam a bottle of anything, let alone spiced whiskey liqueur before every vocal take, but the 60s were a different era, and they may as well have been on another planet. Judging from this photo, Joplin’s paper airplane and whiskey party was a pretty laid back affair, after all, this is the woman who smashed a bottle of Soco over Jim Morrison’s head and partied so hard that she joined the 27 club, but prior to her explosion of stardom she was just a singer who liked to kick back with her rock n roll friends until she dropped. 

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Brian Gilmore

Writer

Brian Gilmore has been writing about and studying everything the Internet loves since 2006 and you've probably accidentally read something he's written before, and if you haven't, you're already reading this bio, so that's a good start. He's a culture junkie ranging from Internet culture, to world history, to listening to way more podcasts than the average human being ever should. He's obsessed with the social catalysts that have caused some of the biggest movements of the last few hundred years, including everything from their effect on the pop culture of the time, to where they end up ideologically. The idea that generations have a beginning and an end is fascinating to him, and the fact that their lasting effects at any given point of their evolution can steer the direction of the entire world lead to some interesting questions, and answers, about our current culture at any given time. He also loves retrofuturism, phobias, and the fact that every pop culture icon has at least a few photos of them that make you feel like you might know them. History isn't a collection of stories as much as it is humanity trying its hardest to maintain a grasp on lessons we've learned before as a species, and that is just way too interesting to not look into a few hours a week. Oh and he used to collect Pez dispensers.