Janis Joplin, solo star and singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company, died at age 27 on Oct. 4, 1970 of a heroin overdose. The distinctive vocalist had endured a long history of drug and alcohol problems.

According to Rolling Stone's account, Joplin was found dead in L.A.'s Landmark Hotel, with fresh needle marks on her arm and $4.50 clutched in her hand. It has been suggested that her dealer accidentally sold her and several other clients an overly strong dose of the drug. She was in the process of finishing up what would turn out to be her posthumously-released 1971 solo album Pearl, having just completed the a cappella track "Mercedes Benz" three days earlier.