In December of 1966, Janis saw Otis Redding perform for the first time. She attended every performance that he gave that weekend at the Fillmore. An hour before the show, she’d be on the dance floor and would place herself in the middle, very close to the stage. While he sang, she watched, transfixed. She absorbed his motions, dwelled on his shouts, and in her imagination perhaps could hear her own voice in those corrugated rasps. Later Tina Turner was to be a major influence too, but it was Otis Redding who changed Janis’ concept of singing. “Her high-energy trip started right at that moment,” Dave Getz declared.
Six months after she saw Otis Redding, he was back at the Fillmore. Janis, this time joined by Sam Andrew, planted herself as close to the stage as she could get. Sam claims Janis “absorbed Redding’s every syllable, movement, and chord change.” She watched the way he made the song “visible” through his movements. “I started singing rhythmically,” she said, “and now I’m learning from Otis Redding to push a song instead of just sliding over it.”
The weekend of June 16, 1967, at the Monterey International Pop Festival, both Janis Joplin and Otis Redding blew away the audience with spectacular performances. Later on in her career, on tour with the Kozmic Blues band, Janis regularly performed Otis’ tune “I Can’t Turn You Loose”.