Janis Joplin is well known to have been a bit of a badass and a totally fearsome woman. She refused to conform to the gender stereotypes that had been so fiercely dictated to her mother’s generation as a certain way for a girl to behave and, in fact, she openly fought against them at every turn. This sense of self and a determination for equality didn’t change when it came to putting pop stars in their place, either. Just ask The Doors frontman Jim Morrison who received a blow to the head after stepping over the line.
Joplin, as aforementioned, had a bit of a reputation for being a strong, confident, and independent woman. The now-iconic musician was more than happy to handle herself when things got sticky, whether it was telling off Jerry Lee Lewis for insulting her sister or indeed yelling obscenities at cops after being asked to calm down her raucous set on stage. So when Morrison’s advances became inappropriate, Joplin was quick to cut him down to size.
The pair, at the time of their meeting, were two of the biggest musicians in the world. Morrison, the snake-hipped rock star poet capable of making audiences melt with lust, was leading the audience with his work alongside The Doors through a cultural revolution of style and output. Joplin, meanwhile, was living that same revolution with every norm-dividing performance her huge lungs allowed her to bellow out. The pair could’ve been a match made in heaven.
Producer Paul Rothschild certainly thought so, too. After inviting the king and queen of rock and roll to a party at Hidden Hills in Los Angeles, he suggested that they both arrive sober so they could remember meeting one another in the morning. Both Morrison and Joplin did, in fact, arrive sober at the party but swiftly moved into their natural personas of the inebriated rock stars. Even still, the two singers really hit it off on a personal level. Joplin was enticed and infatuated by Morrison and his suave yet authentic personality. While Morrison was encapsulated by Joplin’s unstoppably free spirit. Perhaps the fairytale ending was in sight? No, it wasn’t.
Soon enough, as the drinks began to swell in the bellies of rock royalty, the night began to descend. Rothschild remembers Morrison, in particular, becoming “a cretin, a disgusting drunk” and falling into old habits of being obnoxious, unpleasant and violent while on the sauce. As one might imagine, this turned Joplin off considerably and she soon asked for Rothschild to take her home as an escape from Morrison.
As Rothschild duly obliged, Morrison allegedly continued with his advances becoming more and more unwanted with every whiskey-soaked breath. With every advance turned down, it’s claimed that Morrison became more attracted to Joplin — a character clearly not familiar with the feeling of rejection. However, when Joplin looked set to be driving away with Rothschild, Morrison allegedly reached into the car and grabbed Joplin by her hair and tried to pull her out of the car to continue their flirtations.
Big mistake. Joplin, thinking quickly and reacting instantaneously, grabbed a bottle of Southern Comfort and promptly hit Morrison across the head, sending him sprawling to the ground. Now with not only his ego bruised but a serious, and deserved, bump slowly growing from his cranium. Joplin promptly left the party.
Morrison was oddly enough not dissuaded by Joplin’s actions and seemed all the more obsessed by her following her heroic stand and her denial of him. Joplin, however, was rightly unimpressed by Morrison and his actions and refused to let Rothschild give Morrison her number. The pair didn’t reconcile before their untimely deaths in 1970 and 1971 respectively.
While it’s easy to cherish the idea of a legendary couple of rock stars together in love, we must certainly cherish more the legendary, uncompromising, unstoppable force that was Janis Joplin.
Not just a rock star but an icon and idol. As if you needed another reason to love Janis Joplin?