The Janis Joplin–Joe Namath Tryst

Janis Joplin’s sexual activities were polymorphic and prolific. John Byrne Cooke, Joplin’s road manager, described her as being “always on the prowl and vocal about it.” Her pickup line of choice was said to be “Hiya, honey.”1 More specifically,

Janis was a bisexual. Some of her most famous sexual liaisons, were Kris Kristofferson, Joe Namath, Jim Morrison, and, if the rumors are true, Jimi Hendrix. According to Alice Echols, author of Scars of Sweet Paradise, and Myra Friedman, author of Buried Alive, there were six other long-term partners of Joplin’s. Five out of six of these names belonged to women… Multiple Janis Joplin biographers quote a very drunk Janis Joplin as saying, “I hear a rumor that somebody in San Francisco is spreading stories that I’m a d*ke. You fly up there tomorrow and tell this b*tch [that] Janis says she’s gotten it on with a couple thousand cats in her life and a few hundred chicks and see what they can do with that!”2

Other conquests included Sam Andrew, Joe McDonald, Leonard Cohen, and, if rumors are true, Eric Clapton, Dick Cavett, Janis Ian, Howard Hesseman, and today’s featured liaison, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath.3

In fact, the day after her last gig  with the Revue in Madison Square Garden on December 29, 1969, Janis announced she’d “gotten together” with Joe Namath, and dedicated her concert to him.4 Here’s how that connection came about:

Back in New York, Joe got a call from Janis Joplin’s manager. She was coming to New York and wanted to meet him. Joe liked her music and invited her to a party he was attending. As it turned out, Janis had rearranged her whole tour schedule to make this detour specifically to—well—jump Joe’s bones. She didn’t exactly fit Joe’s usual tastes, but Janis was not to be deterred, telling friends later that she and a bottle of tequila managed to change Joe’s mind. The next night she dedicated her concert to Joe Willie and the Jets.5

And, Janis was hardly shy about her exploit:

After hooking up with Jets quarterback Joe Namath in 1969, she urged a friend to call publisher Jann Wenner. “Tell him Janis f—ed Namath and I want it in the next Rolling Stone,” she said, according to a 1999 biography [Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin by Alice Echols. Metropolitan Books; March 17, 1999]. Wenner obliged, and when the story appeared in print, Janis obliged, and when the story appeared in print, Janis clipped and framed it.6

Nor was she starstruck. After her night with Joe Namath, she told her driver that Namath was “flabby.”7

Janis did allude to Joe in a duet she sang with Nick Gravenites, the lyrics of which included these lines (sung by Gravenites):

You know I ain’t no Hollywood star
I’m not Joe Namath, you know,
I read about that in the papers today
You know I’m just a working man,
You don’t work too hard, baby!
I never ran in a football game 200 yards

From Ego Rock by Janis Joplin and Nick Gravenites



  1. Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues by William O’Connor. Daily Beast: 11.08.14 []
  2. Janis Joplin by John Yiannis. GayCultureLand: 6 August 2016 []
  3. Janis Joplin – Patti Smith, Seasick Steve and her bandmates look behind the myth by Tom Pinnock. Uncut: October 2, 2015. []
  4. Goodbye, Janis Joplin By Rolling Stone October 29, 1970 []
  5. The Ballad of Broadway Joe by Richard English. Modern Drunkard []
  6. 15 Celebrity One-Night Stands by John Birmingham. Purple Clover: November 16, 2017 []
  7. Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues by William O’Connor Daily Beast: 11.08.14 []

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