The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

2009: Janis Joplin

Kozmic Blues:

The Life and Music of Janis Joplin


One of rock and roll’s most passionate and influential artists, Janis Joplin was the honoree for the 14th annual American Music Masters® series. Janis Joplin [inducted 1995] has passed into the realm of a legend: an outwardly brash yet inwardly vulnerable and troubled personality who possessed one of the most passionate voices in rock history. Her legacy now reaches beyond her music to include her persona as the embodiment of freedom. Music journalist Ellen Willis asserted that “Joplin belonged to that select group of pop figures who mattered as much for themselves as for their music. Among American rock performers, she was second only to Bob Dylan in importance as a creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation’s mythology. She was also the only woman to achieve that kind of stature in what was basically a male club, the only ‘60s culture hero to make visible and public, women’s experience of the quest for liberation, which was very different from men’s.”

Events celebrating Janis Joplin's life and career included interviews, film screenings, Rockin' the Schools classes, a Teachers Rock session, a conference and performances.

Tribute Concert Performers at the State Theatre

The week's celebrations culminated in a tribute concert on Saturday, November 14 at 8pm and featured:


Wilbert's Performers

The night before the Tribute Concert, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel performed at Wilbert's in Cleveland.  Benson was joined by Carolyn Wonderland during the encore.

Conference at Case Western Reserve University

On Saturday, November 14 from 9am until 4pm at Case Western Reserve University's Wolstein Auditorium, scholars, artists, journalists and fans gathered at a conference to reflect on the career of Janis Joplin and her impact on rock and roll music.  Participants included Janis' brother and sister, Michael and Laura Joplin, photographer John Byrne Cooke, songwriter Jerry Ragovoy ("Piece of My Heart"), singer-songwriters Country Joe McDonald, Powell St. John and Bob Neuwirth, celebrated authors and journalists Ann Powers (L.A. Times), Holly George Warren, and Lucy O'Brien, former San Francisco and current Sirius Radio disc jockey Dusty Street, and David C. Barnett from Cleveland's WVIZ/PBS Ideastream.

From Songwriters to Soundmen Featuring John Byrne Cooke

Live interview on Thursday, November 12 with John Byrne Cooke, Janis Joplin's road manager from December 1967 until her death in October 1970.

Hall of Fame Series with Jorma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane

Live interview on Wednesday, November 11 with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Jorma Kaukonen, founding member of two legendary bands, the Jefferson Airplane and the still-touring Hot Tuna.

Film Screening: Festival Express (2003)

On Tuesday, November 10, the Rock Hall screened the documentary Festival Express that explores the 1970 Canadian concert tour featuring Joplin, the Band and the Grateful Dead.

Teachers Rock: Girls Rock! (2007)

On Tuesday, November 10, the professional development series for teachers featured acclaimed documentary Girls Rock!, encouraging discussion among teachers about learning difference and multiple intelligences in k-12 education.

Rock and Roll Night School: A Spotlight on Janis Joplin

On Monday, November 9, Case Western Reserve Professor of Music Dr. Mary Davis, Rock Hall Vice President of Education and Public Programs, Dr. Lauren Onkey and Rock Hall Director of Education Jason Hanley discussed the life and music of Joplin at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

Selected Song List

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Students learn about Janis Joplin's career in Rock Hall K-12 programming

Additional Resources