58 Vintage Photos
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.
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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