The Story of Janis Joplin’s Final Appearance on ‘The Dick Cavett Show’
Janis Joplin may have seemed like an odd fit for the square Dick Cavett, but the two really appeared to hit it off: Joplin appeared on The Dick Cavett Show repeatedly during the last year of her life, taping her final visit on Aug. 3, 1970.
The warm rapport between Cavett and his guest is evident from the first moments of the above clip, which begins with Cavett telling Joplin, "Very nice to see you, my little songbird." Although Joplin confesses to the usual celebrity interview issues later in the conversation, admitting she sometimes feels like she's saying things the other person doesn't understand, she seems totally at ease during this conversation, a wide-ranging but informal chat that touches on everything from her feelings regarding concert riots to whether or not she ever waterskis ("I don't think I've seen a lake in about eight years, man").
It isn't the type of interview that contains any real revelations, but the playful banter between the two is still a real pleasure to watch — as when Joplin dissolves into giggles after Cavett brings up the "groovy" limo service she employed, bashfully admitting, "I always sit in the front seat. When you ride in a limousine, you're supposed to lay in the back, but I always sit in the front, so I can look at everybody."
Sadly, as Joplin fans know, she was near the end of her life when she made this appearance. The singer died on Oct. 4, 1970, the result of an accidental heroin overdose later attributed to a particularly bad strain of the drug that felled other regular customers of Joplin's dealer. She gave her final interview four days before her death.
Mortality was on Joplin's mind during the days after this Cavett appearance, albeit not her own; shortly after making her final visit to the show, she bought a headstone for her singing idol, blues legend Bessie Smith, who had been buried in an unmarked grave since 1937.
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