1. Before she became famous, Janis once walked up to Bob Dylan and told him she was going to be famous one day.
2. She wasn’t afraid to admit that she liked to be around men.
“You show me a good drummer and I’ll hire one,” she responded. “Show me a good chick — besides I don’t want chicks on the road with me. I got enough competition, man.”
3. She demanded to be different, growing up.
“She was pushing the limits and women weren’t supposed to swear, and women were supposed to be demure and not know that anything existed below their waistlines,” said Dave Moriaty, one of Joplin’s childhood friends.
4. She never had formal vocal training.
“I discovered I had this incredibly loud voice. So I started singing blues because that was always what I liked,” Janis said in Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue. “I got in a bluegrass band and played hillbilly music in Austin, TX for free beer. I used to sing in folk clubs just for a goof.”
5. She was free about her sexuality, dating both women and men.
“I don’t think she was with girls to shock people. I think she was with girls because that’s what she felt at the moment,” said Jae Whittaker, Janis’ former girlfriend.
6. The main inspiration for her singing style was Otis Redding.
“Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, they are so subtle, they could milk you, with two notes. They could go no farther than from an A to a B and they could make you feel like they told you the whole universe. And Otis, my man. I think maybe if I keep singin’, maybe I’ll get it.”
7. She once airlifted a friend into Woodstock.
When Janis learned that her friend and sometimes lover Peggy Caserta was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t be able to make it to Woodstock, where Janis was performing, she sent a helicopter to fetch her friend.
8. Her talents brought Kris Kristofferson to tears.
“I didn’t hear [it] until she was gone. And it was very emotional for me. I could just see her saying, ‘wait till that son of a b***h hears this,’ you know?” said Kris Kristofferson.
Janis’ “Me and Bobby McGee” became the number one single in the U.S. in 1971.
9. She was unapologetic about defying gender roles at the time.
To which she confidently answered: “I’m representing everything they want, you know? It’s sort of like you are what you settle for…you are only as much as you settle for,” she said. “I’m just doing what I want to, and what feels right, and not settling for bulls*** and it works. How can they be mad at that?”