Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Janis Triumphs At Monterey 1967

Janis Joplin's career took off after her astounding performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967. She held nothing back in her onstage delivery of raw, raspy emotion, influenced by African-American female blues artists Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton. A non-conformist and outcast growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis went to San Francisco and joined Big Brother & The Holding Company, which wedded the blues to the psychedelic sound.

Janis's performance of "Ball And Chain," a Thornton composition, is excerpted from the 1968 film "Monterey Pop." Take note of the rapt attention of singer Mama Cass in the audience (including her apparently saying "wow" at the song's end) and of Janis's delight at the crowd's thunderous applause. This groundbreaking, hard-living artist had three more years to live before accidentally overdosing on heroin, at age 27, alone in a Los Angeles motel room.


fleud said...

Sends chills up and down my spine ever time I see it. Was that shot of Mama Cass saying "Wow" serendipitous?

Jeff Tone said...

Yes, this is one of rock's classic, timeless performances. Like rock and roll, it will never die.

I think that that D.A. Pennebaker, director of "Monterey Pop," had the camera trained on Mama Cass and just caught her natural reaction. I'm sure she was one of many saying "Wow!"