When I first got hold of the Cheap Thrills album, I had never seen any album art that came close to it. For those not familiar with LPs, these were large hard board sleeves, often with additional sleeves, printed or plain, paper or polythene, inside, and within that lay the black vinyl record, with its label which also was often used as part of the artists creative expression. Like CD covers and booklets, these albums were another avenue to express what the band or singer wanted to convey through the album itself. During the 60s and 70s, these album covers often became very strong statements of personal belief. We had seen the likes of Sticky Fingers and Bitches Brew, but this was something else. Straight out of pages of EC Comics, the cover art by Robert Crumb of Fritz the Cat fame (Harvey Kurtzman actually published Crumb’s work at one point), set the tone by demolishing any expectation that one might have had. The music set out as standard 60s psychedelic rock till Janis sang.
John Lennon received Janis Joplin’s gift for his 30th birthday after she died on October 4, 1970. Along with Mercedes Benz, her recording of Happy Trails to send to Lennon for his birthday about a week away, was the last song she would sing. Forever plagued with a poor self image and filled with distrust and doubt, she died without knowing that her songs would live on, to be discovered and re-discovered, to be revered and imitated, for generations to come.
Read more about Joplin.