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Abbie Hoffman’s mournful musings on watching Janis Joplin shoot up

Abbie Hoffman’s 1969 Woodstock Nation is an essential read for students of the intersections of rock music and politics. Hoffman wrote it in 1969 while he was awaiting the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial in which he was a co-defendant for inciting the 1968 Chicago DNC riots, and it’s a stream-of-semiconsciousness musing on the state of American youth culture, specifically as of the massive and zeitgeist-altering Woodstock music festival.

That festival was famously full of bummers—rain, the brown acid, goddamned Sha Na Na—and Hoffman himself was one of them, too. He worked hard to establish a “Movement City” on the Bethel, NY concert site, intending to try to radicalize concertgoers. But the tent was so far from the stage as to seem to marginalize politics from the festival. Hoffman, in protest, famously took the stage during The Who’s set to scold the audience for having fun while John Sinclair rotted in jail for having two joints. (In fairness there were probably way more than two joints worth of weed per audience member on that site so he maybe kinda had a point, though he was inarguably a peevish dick about making it. Also, interrupting THE WHO for fuck’s sake seems a poor way to win converts.) Just as famous as Hoffman’s tirade was Who guitarist Pete Townshend’s unequivocally disapproving removal of Hoffman from the stage—by swatting him off with his guitar. That move alone earned a huge swell of applause.

Hoffman targets Townshend in one of Woodstock Nation’s more memorable passages, but what concerns us today comes from “The Head Withers as the Body Grows,” an epilogue Hoffman wrote especially for the 1971 Pocketbooks reprint of the book. Excerpts from it were reproduced in the October 1971 issue of Circus under the provocative title “Woodstock: a Tin Pan Alley Rip Off,” and they offer a poignant view of Hoffman’s disillusionment about the failure of the revolution, the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and the ascension to complacent millionaire stardom of most of the other important rockers. And the article opens with a terribly sad, elegiac passage about watching Joplin shoot heroin, and what her death would mean, not to music, but to the music business.


Somewhere deep inside the bowels of the monster born in Bethel also lay the kernel for its destruction. Perhaps it was the egocentric greed of the Rock Empire itself. Maybe it was the strain of cannibalism inherited from our parents and exaggerated when cramped into railroad flats in the slums or on muddy shoes in front of the gargantuan stages. The rapes, the bad acid burns, stealing from each other, they, too, were part of the Woodstock experience, if not the Nation. Smack and speed didn’t help. “Shooting up” is more than just a casual expression. It is symbolic of the suicidal death trip, the frustration, the despair. It is another way to bring the apocalypse a little closer.

Janis was the heroine of the Woodstock Nation. Bold and sassy, her energy could ignite millions. I saw her perform all over the country. In the funky old Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, in the Fillmores West and East, on TV, backstage where she would line up a row of twenty studs, in the Chelsea Hotel bar and on the street. She used to drop into our place at all sorts of weird hours when we lived around the corner from the Fillmore East. She was the only person I ever saw use a needle. When she popped in a load and pulled out the works, she’d cluck her tongue making a sucking noise and her face would break out into a shit-eatin grin. The very thought of it makes me shiver. You couldn’t know Janis without knowing her death was near and you couldn’t know the Rock Empire without knowing her death would mean a bundle to the horde of enterprising vultures who choose to pick at the corpse.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Janis Joplin talks about rejection four days before she died in 1970
03:40 pm

Pop Culture

Janis Joplin


“In my insides, it really hurts if someone doesn’t like me. It’s silly.”

Listen to Janis Joplin’s final interview—where she shows a more vulnerable side—with Howard Smith of The Village Voice on September 30, 1970. This was recorded just four days before Joplin died from a heroin overdose at the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood.

Joplin talks about rejection and why some women may have disliked or been intimidated by her strong female rock persona. 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Kozmic Blues: Incredible footage of Janis Joplin, live in Germany, 1969

‘Raise Your Hand!’: FANTASTIC Tom Jones & Janis Joplin duet, 1969

Via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Kozmic Blues: Incredible footage of Janis Joplin, live in Germany, 1969
07:15 pm


Janis Joplin

This concert footage of Janis Joplin and The Kozmic Blues Band, her smokin’ hot, soulful as fuck, Stax-influenced backup group, was shot in Frankfurt, Germany on April 12, 1969, capturing the hard-living vocalist at the top of her game as a performer. Despite the fact that the 27-year-old Joplin was said to have been shooting close to $200 worth of heroin into her arm each day—even in 2012 dollars, a $200 a day habit is quite a lot of heroin, I shudder to think what $200 bought back then—she’s going full-tilt Tina Turner in this amazing performance. This European tour was on support of Joplin’s I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! album.

Before it gets to the music, there’s a bit of “looking back” reminiscing from some old German guys you won’t care about and some interview footage that is translated into German, obscuring what she’s saying for the most part (I was amused by the male German voice-over guy like laughing whenever Janis laughed, to indicate wryness).

The concert footage starts at about 22 minutes in and it’s truly dazzling.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pearl jamming: A whole lotta Janis Joplin on the anniversary of her death
06:50 pm


Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin died 41 years ago today. Had she lived, she’d be 69 years old.

Video compilation of concert and TV performances by Janis and Big Brother and The Kozmic Blues Band 1967-70.
Live 1970 Various Locations Canada
1-Cry Baby
2-No More Cane
3-Thowing A Party
4-Tell Mama
5-Move Over
6-Kozmic Blues

Generation Club NYC 1967
7-Coming Home

Cheap Thrills Sessions
8-Coming Home
9-Piece Of My Heart
10-Down On Me

Dick Cavett Show
11-Combination Of Two
12-Ball & Chain

Monterey Pop
14-Ball & Chain

Come Up The Years TV-Show
15-Down On Me
16-The Coo Coo

18-Summertime Rehearsal

Woodstock Unreleased
19-Work Me Lord


21-Raise Your Hand

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Raise Your Hand!’: FANTASTIC Tom Jones & Janis Joplin duet, 1969
12:40 pm


Tom Jones
Janis Joplin

Two great tastes that taste great together, here’s an inspired musical pairing of two of pop’s most famous “belters,” Tom Jones and Janis Joplin, performing “Raise You Hand” in 1969 on the This is Tom Jones TV series.

Crazy good stuff on display here. Crazy good.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Handmade felted rock stars

Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin hangin’ out
Oregon -based artist Kay Petal makes these whimsical sculptural needle-felted rock star dolls. Kay says, “Using single, barbed felting needles I sculpt wool fibers into solid felted wool characters with heart and soul. My characters are soft and flexible yet strong and durable.”

And guess what? Kay will even make one of YOU! You can contact her on the website Felt Alive for more information.
Johnny Cash
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment


With all the name-brand dying going on these days, I thought I’d mention the passing of someone less well-known who probably touched many of us more deeply and intimately than, oh, Walter Cronkite.  Tom Wilkes, celebrated album cover designer for The Rolling Stones, George Harrison and The Who died recently, in, of all places, Pioneertown, California.  Beyond Beggars Banquet, though, Wilkes was wildly talented, wonderfully prolific.  For a good taste of it all, including his artwork for Monterey Pop, click the link below:

Tom Wilkes homepage

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment