Entertainment

Janis Joplin’s tragic death – heroin cover-up, final phone call and conspiracy theories


Janis Joplin has been hailed as one of the greatest rock singers of all time – but her tragic death shocked the world and sparked speculation.

She shot to fame in 1967 after appearing at Monterey Pop Festival with her band, Big Brother and The Holding Company.

Sadly, the young American rock star was only 27 years old when she was discovered dead in her hotel room by her close friend John Byrne Cooke.

It meant she joined the notable 27 Club – a group of iconic late musicians such as Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain who also died at 27.

In fact, Janis’ death came only weeks after fellow rock legend Jimi Hendrix.



janis joplin
Janis Joplin died at the age of 27 – just weeks after Jimi Hendrix passed at the same age

Janis was found dead next to her bed at Hollywood’s Landmark Motor Hotel in Los Angeles – on October 4 1970.

She was found by her close friend John Byrne Cooke, who was also her tour manager.

An autopsy by Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi found that Janis had died of a heroin overdose, which may have been exacerbated by alcohol consumption, and the death was ruled accidental.

Traces of narcotics had initially been taken from the scene by a friend before being put back later, according to a book (1983) by Noguchi and Joseph DiMona.



janis joplin
The singer’s death was ruled as an accidental heroin overdose

The friend had seemingly tried to help Joplin by removing the drug evidence, but they put it back after learning the autopsy would reveal the narcotics in her body.

Cook argued that the singer must have been given heroin that was stronger than what she had been previously been used to.

This is because a number of other customers overdosed in the same weekend – and they all came from the same dealer.

It emerged that Janis’ fiancée Seth Morgan and her close friend Peggy Caserta had failed to meet her on the Friday before her death.



janis joplin
The singer was let down by her pals in the days before her death

The rock star had expected them to show up that evening as they had promised they would, and Peggy said the singer was gutted when they didn’t see her.

Peggy didn’t try calling her for the next 24 hours, and when she finally did, she was obstructed by the hotel as Joplin had told the desk not to accept any incoming calls for her after midnight.

Morgan, however, did have a phone call with the singer in the 24 hours before she died, but not much is known about the chat.

Pal Peggy, who also had a romantic relationship with Janice at one point, has argued that Joplin died of a head gash wound rather than an overdose.

Her story would go that Janice lost her balance after getting the hourglass heel of her sandal caught in the carpet of the room.



janis joplin
Joplin was etched into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995

After her death, the songstress was cremated at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles.

Her ashes were also scattered into the Pacific Ocean from a plane.

The musician had reportedly been a regular heroin user since 1969.

Gabriel Mekler, who was was the producer of her back up band the Kozmic Blues Band, says Janis came to stay with him in a bid to get clean from drugs.



janis joplin
Janis became one of the most iconic rock singers of all time

In 1970, Janice told Rolling Stone: “I’m a victim of my own insides. There was a time when I wanted to know everything … It used to make me very unhappy, all that feeling.

“I just didn’t know what to do with it. But now I’ve learned to make that feeling work for me.

“I’m full of emotion and I want a release, and if you’re on stage and if it’s really working and you’ve got the audience with you, it’s a oneness you feel.”

In 1995, the late star was celebrated as she was entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously.

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