The Overdose Death of Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin
January 19, 1943 -October 4, 1970“On stage, I make love to 25,000different people, then I go home alone.”

Janis was in LA, taping her final album, “Pearl,”in October of 1970. 

Findadeath friendDavid Lewis sends:  The only song (on the album) she does not sing on is(supposedly) the last song she was to finish, but instead died. BuriedAlive in the Blues. Weird huh?

After recording on theevening of the 3rd, she and band member Ken Pearson had a couple of drinks at Barney’s Beanery. 

Just after midnight, they drove back to theLandmark Hotel, at 7047 Franklin. 

Inside room 105, she shot up her last fix of heroin. She returned to the hotel lobby toget change for a five dollar bill, for cigarettes. She chatted casually with the hotelclerk, who later said she seemed perfectly natural (and he didn’t know who shewas). When she returned to her room, shecollapsed beside the bed, almost breaking her nose. She was wedged against a bedsidetable, with a cigarette in her hand.

John Cook, one of her band members, became alarmedwhen she didn’t show up for the recording session the next morning, and afterunsuccessfully trying to reach her by telephone, he went to the hotel,  broke down the door and found her dead. 

She was 27 years old.

Coroners case #70-10463:


June 2007: A little explanation from Findadeath Family member Mel:  From what I can tell, she was lying in kind of a weird position when she died, more on her left side but with the right side of her face and nosesmashed into the carpet. I say this because of the notes regarding the “liver mortis” noted on her body.Liver mortis is a discoloration that occurs in mostly dependent areas of the body, where there is pressure. It is graded on a scale, with 4 plus being the worst, which is what she had. This means maximal discoloration. You’ll notice that he mentions the skin in those areas “doesn’t blanch with pressure” or something to that effect. Basically, those areas of her body were purple, and the color did not disappear when the skin was pressed. I can tell you, she was not a pretty picture, lying there purple-faced, with blood in her mouth and froth coming out. Although there were Dalmane tabs found on the bed, according to the toxicology report she had nothing but heroin in her system. (Heroin breaks down chemically into morphine). There were no barbiturates, no sedatives, no speed. The drugs they tested for are in any standard tox screen. I guess it was a particularly strong batch of heroin that got her. Heroin/morphine depresses the respiratory system, so she basically ended up drowning in her own secretions, but I doubt if she knew it – she was probably out cold. And soon-to-be REAL cold. 

Mel alsoattached a great picture of Janis’ namecarved into the table at Barney’s Beanery, 

and this nice shot of theauthentic to the time kitchen in theroom.

Findadeath friend Bec sends us:  I recently purchased the book “Hippie” by Barry Miles.  It had a bit in there about Janis that frankly I hadn’t heard before…

“Janis returned to room 105 at the Landmard Motel, where she and some of her musician’s were staying, at about 1 a.m.  Earlier that day her connection had delivered $50 worth of heroin to her.  But her dealer himself was not an addict and whenever he received a new consignment, he usually had a “tester” check it for him to see how pure it was before stepping on it accordingly.  But his tester was away.  He sent it out anyway.  The smack turned out to be between 50% and 80% pure – eight times stronger than people were used to.  Eight people would die from using that batch over the weekend; Janis was one of them.”

On October 10th, she was cremated at Westwood Memorial Park. Her ashes werescattered over Stinson Beach, in Marin County.

Janis had provided $1,500 dollars in her will for a funeral party, where The GratefulDead performed for 200of her friends. friend Beca tracked downthis copy of the invitation.  

How absolutely fantastic.  The party was held at The Lion’s Share, 60Redhill Drive, in San Aselmo.  

June 2007Findadeath friend Jenny in Marin County got thisgreat picture of the building where Janis’ wake fest was held.  

Thankyou Jenny. 

 Other new findadeath friend Gaelan also did a photo trip to thelocale, and notes that thisbusiness now occupies the building.  

Thanks so much you guys.

Trivia: In 1995, bricks from the Joplin childhood home in Port Arthur, Texas, went onsale for 40 bucks a pop.

The Landmark Hotel has since been renamed The Highland Gardens. friend Michelle in Texas sendsus this:  Just some trivia from your favorite dyke in Austin, Texas. Janis attendedthe University Of Texas at Austin in the early 60’s. They voted her”Ugliest Man On Campus”. Also, one of her first gigs in Austin was aplace called Threadgills, which now is a popular local chain of restaurants.

Meredith Montgomery send us this: Janis did indeed attend the University of Texas in Austin, as I did from 1984 to1989. My boyfriend and I went to Threadgills, hoping to be a part of history.Instead, we received the lousiest service I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Iwasn’t hungry that day, so I just wanted to order an iced tea. My boyfriendwanted just an order of fries. The bitch waitress remarked that if we wantedhamburgers (they only serve entree kind of food) that we should have gone toMcDonald’s. We tipped her a penny and left. I hope it was cooler when Janisperformed there.

Updated September 11, 2002:

So, a buddy of mine was staying at the HighlandGardens a couple of weeks ago. I went to visit him, and the place was justlike I remembered. I glanced down thehallway that led to her room, which has NOT changed numbers,105.

The people that used to run the hotel, neverliked to talk about the Janis thing. Since I left LA the last time, thehotel changed hands, and rightfully, the new owners think its great! Youcan even request Janis’s room.

This guy I was talking to inthelobby, started telling me stories about various incidents that he believeare Janis, but only when someone says something about her.  

Those 8 by 10’sof celebrities that grace every single business in LA, fly off the walls.Doors slam shut, etc.  Nothing too destructive, but again only when someonediscusses Janis. One other incident involved the phone lines going nuts at3 in the morning. Every single phone from every single room startedringing at the switchboard. The guy calls the owner, and the owner is justas dumbfounded. Then the owner says, “It must be Janis.”Instantly the phones stopped ringing. A little creepy, then as we’retalking, the phone starts ringing.  He says, “Good evening, HighlandGardens Hotel.”  No one there. It happens again, and again, andagain. At least 6 times. It wasn’t major creepiness, but it was kinda coolto think it just mightbe Janis. 

On November 26th 2003, my palBrian celebrated his birthday. Brian met Christine at my Death Hag gettogether last June, and they are the cool new Findadeath couple. Tocelebrate Brian’s birthday, Christine rented room 105. Yeah, THEroom. We got in,and we marveled at the authenticity of much of it.  

Running around sayingthings like, Janis used this faucet!  

My pal Ted from www.celebritycollectables.comsent me a copy of Janis’ autopsy report for the occasion, and with thatinformation I was able to pretty much pinpoint Janis’ final landing spot. 

Then we went out to Barney’s Beanery, just like Pearl did, and after we passedthe absolute hunkiest doormanon the planet, 

we indulged in the Beanery’sfamousfare.  

Above the table where we ate, there were the former tables ofthe place, hung from the ceiling. According to the waitresses (who wasall of twelve), this is the onethat Janis supposedly scratched her name in, but for the life of us, we couldn’tfind it. 

Actually, I doubt any of them even know who Janis was.Still, what a terrific night. Thank you guys, for including me in.

October 2003 from Findadeath.comfriend Gerry Dickert: I’m the managing editor for a newspaper called The Beaumont Enterprise inBeaumont, Texas. In our files I found the following photographs of Janis.Thought they would be a nice addition to your site.  I’ve added anattribute on the photograph to keep the boss-guys happy here.

Some information on the photos:

Janis returned to Port Arthur, Texas, for her 10th year high school reunion onAugust 15, 1970. She attended Thomas Jefferson High School, which no longerexists, having been merged with other of the city’s high schools into onemega-school in recent years. Pictured with Janis are, from left, Gilbert Cadena,Glenda South Standoffer, and 1960 TJ Class President Clarence Bray.

This was the childhood home of Janis, located on Procter Street in Port Arthur,Texas, where she lived until the age of 4 years old. When this picture wastaken, in 1980, it had already been saved once from demolition attempts by thecity in 1978 when Groves, Texas, builder Howard Riggs bought the property tosave it from being razed. Having bought the property for his daughter, a Janisfan, Riggs was disappointed when his efforts to refurbish the home and see itbecome a museum fell short. The home was eventually torn down by the Port Arthurcity housing department in January 1980

City workers work on the ruins of Janis’ childhood home in January 1980. Throughdeterioration and vandalism, the home had diminished to the point ofunacceptable standards, according to the city, and was razed.

Thanks tons, Gerry.

Feb 2003, friend Mark Smithsends us this:  Here is a photo of Janis Joplin’s house in Larkspur. This is her “housein the woods” that she bought a year before her death – and still ownedat the time of her death.  

The house had been sold by the estate when thisphoto was taken, around 1980.  Thanks Mark!

This just in, from Findadeath friend Amber:

Some info that I remember but have yet to find anything online to substantiate. I think this is a mix of things I remember from some TV biography of Janis and from some books I read about her years ago...
In early 1970 Janis and a friend went off to Brazil for a few months because Janis wanted to get clean. She was successful (at least temporarily) and while there she met an American man that she fell quickly in love with. They returned to the U.S. together, but the relationship dissolved not long after their return. She started to fall back into the rock n roll lifestyle so to speak, and he wanted no part of it. She laid down the vocal track for Me and Bobby McGee. (My own interpretation is that the song has at least some basis in that failed relationship) That night she overdosed. The next morning the band members were in the studio waiting for her to arrive and finish up the track. As your account already includes, one of the band members broke down her door and found her body after they were unable to reach her by phone. The band went back to the studio days later and finished the instrumentation to the track. The album was released, and Me and Bobby McGee became her first song to reach #1.

Janis was honored at the Grammys in 2005 by her old pal Kris Kristopherson, Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge.  I thought Melissa rocked it, and seeing Janis' brother and sister in the audience made it a real moment, I thought.  I just watched it again, and this video effing rocks.


June 2010 – recently Troy and I went to the Grammy museum in downtownLA.  Right this minute there is an exhibition on Janis, Jimi and Jim. I had never been to the museum, so was pretty psyched.  I’ll give it anOK.  If I didn’t mind putting on nasty dirty headphones, I may have enjoyedit more.  Honestly, they should make them disposable, it wasdisgusting.  One thing that made the trip totally worthwhile – Joplin’spsychedelic Porsche was there.

Apparently it was owned by her brother, who used it forerrands etc, and was in pretty bad shape – now it’s been restored, and it’spretty darn cool.  Here is theinterior, where no doubt Janis would punch it and burn rubber.  

Thecustom designed hood 

and boot.  

It’s worth a trip to the Grammy museum – actually you can probably just go inthe front door and see it, and not have to pay.  Worth it.

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