One of the most important and undoubtedly iconic voices of her generation—and frankly ever since—the story of Janis Joplin ended far too soon. The late singer passed in 1970 and yet her shining light has continued to bathe us all in yellow sunshine warmth ever since, something we need now more than ever.
One of the singer’s last public appearances was her 1970 interview on the legendary The Dick Cavett Show and here we are looking back at that very special moment. It could have easily gone wrong for the singer, and her rebellious demeanour, but it turns out to be a very warm and friendly conversation between two ends of the fame spectrum, meeting for a chat.
The notoriously square Cavett welcomes Joplin to the show saying, “Very nice to see you, my little songbird.” It sets the tone for a genuinely touching conversation between what feels like a niece and her fuddy-duddy uncle.
The clip sees Joplin enjoying trying to explain the nuances of youth, explaining what’s ‘hip’ and what’s not, the kind of conversation you’ll witness at any family meal. It makes for a charming watch and a reminder to be friendly.
The chat sees Joplin and Cavett connect on a range of subjects from across her wild life. Firstly, Joplin has pressing issues to start with—his suit. The glaring glimmer of seventies fashion at which Joplin bashfully smiles—unwilling to hurt his feelings—is that start of a great conversation. They continue to touch on subjects such as concert riots, waterskiing, and her “groovy” limo, Joplin says: “I always sit in the front seat. When you ride in a limousine, you’re supposed to lay in the back, but I always sit in the front, so I can look at everybody.”
As she continues to be her most authentic and pure self, the interview remains a flickering reminder of the light in Joplin which was sadly all too swiftly snuffed out. An unwanted member of the ’27 club’, Joplin lost her life just two short months after this interview following an accidental overdose of heroin.
While this appearance was not the last interview Joplin ever conducted, it will be remembered as a genial, gentle and kindhearted conversation between two characters who clearly shared a lot of warmth for each other.
Janis Joplin was a leading light of her generation, the voice of the disenfranchised youth that littered America at the time, the fierce female unwilling to compromise on her humanity. She is and always will be a legend.
Watch below Janis Joplin’s last ever TV appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970.