Why did Janis Joplin adore Bessie Smith

Blues legend Bessie Smith passed away 75 years ago

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Bessie Smith is considered one of the greatest blues singers of all time. 75 years ago today, she died at the age of 43 after a car accident in Mississippi. According to rumors, the black musician was denied access to several hospitals for racist reasons.

At a young age, the legendary singer Ma Rainey took care of Smith, who grew up in the poorest of circumstances. During Prohibition she appeared in countless illegal clubs, which earned her a legendary reputation within the scene and a solid alcoholic illness. In 1923 she had her breakthrough with the song "Down Hearted Blues" composed by Alberta Hunter.

Adored by Joplin and Dylan

This was followed by collaborations with famous musicians such as Louis Armstrong, appearances in front of sold-out houses and a handful of other hits, including "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out". Her songs often featured alcohol ("Me and My Gin"), drugs ("Gimme a Pigfoot And a Bottle of Beer"), and sex ("Empty Bed Blues). Smith was known for her dissolute lifestyle.

After a long career slump, her star was rising again in 1936 because she was allowed to represent the sick Billie Holiday at a concert. However, her early death brought her career to an abrupt end. Especially during the 1960s Smith had numerous admirers, including Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, whose The Band dedicated the song "Bessie Smith" to her on the album "The Basement Tapes".