Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company

Exhibition Label
When Texas-born singer Janis Joplin (1943–1970) joined the San Francisco band Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966, she propelled the group to the top of the rock scene. A passionate, bluesy singer with a raw, powerful voice, Joplin electrified audiences with her sexualized performance style, delivered with explosive movements and wailing, whispering, and shrieking. One writer described her as a "mixture of Leadbelly, a steam engine, Calamity Jane, Bessie Smith, an oil derrick, and rot-gut bourbon." Before her 1970 death of a drug overdose at age twenty-seven, Joplin had become a female rock icon.
The distinctive lettering and vivid colors of the psychedelic rock posters helped launch a poster collecting craze. As advertising images, portraits of film and music celebrities, and political propaganda wallpapered bedrooms and dorm rooms, the poster became a statement of one’s personal affiliations and a visual symbol of the era.

Object Details

Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Patrick Lofthouse, born 4 Jul 1937
Copy after
Tom Weir, born 1935
Janis Joplin, 19 Jan 1943 - 4 Oct 1970
James Gurley, 22 Dec 1939 - 20 Dec 2009
Peter Albin, born 1944
Samuel Andrew, 18 Dec 1941 - 12 Feb 2015
David Getz, born 1938
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Jack Banning
Color photolithographic poster
Image/Sheet: 53.7cm x 35.8cm (21 1/8" x 14 1/8")