Song: “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
Reached #1: March 20, 1971 (her first, 2 weeks)
She’s one of the small group of rock artists who died at age 27 – a classic example of living hard and dying young.
The “Pearl” was later transformed into The Rose by Bette Midler, when Midler couldn’t get the rights to Joplin’s story.
And to this day, any young singer with a bit of a rasp in her voice is inevitably compared to Janis Joplin.
As with Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”, this song was recorded just a few days before Joplin’s death, and became a #1 hit in the wake of her death.
Also as with Otis, you can’t help but wonder what we missed.
What you might not know is that the song wasn’t written for Janis at all. Kris Kristofferson co-wrote it, originally offered it to the Statler Brothers, and wound up giving it to Roger Miller for its first release – yes, Bobby was a girl originally before Janis reworked the song a little while recording it. Through the early ‘70s, just about everyone in country did a cover version – but there’s only one version we remember… as the last testament of Janis Joplin.
Tomorrow, a song nobody wanted, by a defrocked beauty queen…
Other songs that reached #1 on March 20:
1961 – “Surrender” by Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires (Elvis’ fifteenth, 2 weeks)
1982 – “I Love Rock & Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (their first, 7 weeks)
2010 – “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris (his first, 1 week)