Two of my favorite things in this world are good music and good beer. Somehow they've always gone hand-in-hand with me, so I thought I'd spend a little bit of time explaining what I like in both. The making of each to me is an art form and both are necessary to a good outlook on life and general happiness. They both seem better while you're sharing them with others, and each enhances the other.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Janis Joplin - Kozmic Blues and great beer

I was in Anchor Brewing a few years ago for work when I spotted some photographs hanging on the wall in the tasting room. They showed Janis Joplin and the rest of Big Brother and the Holding Company drinking beer during their own brewery tour. They all were smiling as they held their beer. I'm usually smiling too when I'm holding one of their beers. I'm particularly fond of Old Foghorn, their barley wine.

Janis was known for her drinking, but it wasn't beer that she developed a reputation for drinking, it was Jack Daniels. Unfortunately for her, it was her taste for other forms of intoxicants along with an over fondness of  whiskey that led to her early demise.  She was always pretty much a loner in life. She was an outcast at her high school in Port Arthur and eventually began attending the University of Texas, where she was voted the "Ugliest Man on Campus". It was little wonder she ditched school and Texas and hitched to the Bay area and wound up singing in coffee shops and other locations around town before she would up fronting Big Brother and had a beer at the Anchor brewery. That loneliness was probably a big reason for her drinking too much.

After she left Big Brother, she formed a new band she called the Kozmic Blues Band, which had more of an R&B flavor. By then she was deeply into heroin and had a $200 dollar a day habit. They did a tour of Europe in the spring of 1969 and among the stops was Amsterdam.

Janis Joplin managed to get off drugs, at least for a time but she was still a very heavy drinker. The last thing she ever recorded was a version of "Happy Trails" which she sent to John Lennon for his birthday. She was dead by the time the recording was delivered to Lennon. Joplin was 27 years old when she died.

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