American Masters: Janis Joplin

About This Episode


One of the most revered and influential rock ’n’ roll singers of all time, Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) thrilled audiences and blazed new creative trails before her death at age 27. American Masters - Janis: Little Blue Girl examines Joplin’s story in depth, for the first time on film, presenting an intimate portrait of a complicated and driven artist.

Original interviews with Joplin’s siblings Laura and Michael, friends, lovers and fellow musicians, including Big Brother and the Holding Company bandmates Peter Albin, Sam Andrew and Dave Getz, Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Country Joe McDonald (Country Joe and the Fish), Kris Kristofferson, Dick Cavett and Clive Davis, give a complete sense of someone haunted by insecurity and a need for acceptance throughout her life, despite her on-stage bravado and uninhibited, sexualized persona.

Exploring her childhood, struggles with addiction, active role in the musical and cultural revolution of the 1960s, surprising rise to stardom and untimely demise, Joplin’s own words tell much of her story through a series of letters she wrote to her parents – many of them made public for the first time – and read by Chan Marshall.