On August 12, 1970, Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band performed at Cambridge’s Harvard Stadium as part of the “Summer Thing” arts festival, an event that would become immortalized as one of Boston’s most famous - and infamous - live music moments.
In front of a raucous and overcapacity crowd and playing with equipment hastily thrown together after theirs was stolen, Joplin and the Band jammed out their last set list, including two tracks - “Mercedes Benz” and “My Baby” - both slated for Pearl, which would be released posthumously in January 1971.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of that day and the last time Janis Joplin would perform live publicly. Celebrity photographer Peter Warrack was there to capture haunting, moving images of the iconic singer on film, and a couple of years ago we were fortunate enough to unearth these images amongst his massive archive of negatives.
Finally available to the public, Warrack’s most iconic and important work received high praise from press the likes of Rolling Stone, Forbes, NPR and The Boston Globe when House of Roulx released Her Final Performance, a select grouping of images taken from the original negatives with a, since sold out, companion premium bespoke box set boasting original artwork by Jace McTier and set of the previously unpublished photographs of Joplin's closing act.
The release garnered praise and support from the official Janis Joplin website and the Museum of the Gulf Coast in her childhood home of Port Arthur, Texas. We were asked to display the images at the premier of Amy J. Berg's critically acclaimed documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA. It was here that we truly began to understand impact of these images as person after person came up to share that they had been in attendance and never realized the images existed and how much it brought them back to that now even more cherished night. Some didn't even realize the magnitude of the live event as her last until these conversations and nostalgic accounts were shared.
We have always thought of the Her Final Performance as a showpiece project for our company, but couldn't have imagined the new connections and opportunities that it has brought us.
We are privileged and thankful for the opportunity to continue the legacy and honor the importance and significance of the images that Janis Joplin and Peter Warrack created 50 years ago today.
Thank you, Janis. Thank you, Peter. May you both rest in peace.
- House of Roulx