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Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin

Pearl by Janis Joplin featured Me and Bobby McGee, a one-hit wonderHere is another one-hit wonder by an artist you will swear had more chart hits. But “Me and Bobby” McGee” represents Janis Joplin’s only flirtation with the Billboard Top 40.

Think about that for a moment; Janis Joplin, a woman who is widely regarded as one of the great all-time rocks singers and a cautionary tale about the perils of alcholism, is a one-hit wonder artist. Just like Lou Reed, The Grateful Dead, Rush, Kraftwerk and many other rock stars or influential artists who only hit the Top 40 one time.

But if you only hit the charts once, Joplin’s approach is the best; she went all the way to number one.

The only problem? She was dead by the time it happened.

In the history of popular music, only seven other artists can make that claim of having one of their songs hit #1 on the Billboard Top 40:

  • Otis Redding with “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”
  • Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin
  • Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce
  • (Just Like Starting Over by John Lennon
  • Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G.
  • Slow Motion by Juvenile featuring Soulja Slim
  • Lollipop by Lil Wayne featuring Static Major

Of all the rock honors one could ever amass, that’s one that is better lived without. Literally.

Click to hear other Billboard number-one hit one-hit wonders

“Me and Bobby McGee” was written by Kris Kristofferson and first performed by Roger Miller (you remember “King of the Road” don’t you?). Joplin recorded her own version of the song for her last record, Pearl, just a short time before she died from a heroin overdose in October, 1970. She was only 27.

“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin reached #1 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1971 making Janis Joplin a one-hit wonder. Yep, Joplin only hit the Billboard Top 40 once with a posthumous number one single. The posthumous album, Pearl, has sold more than 4 million copies since its release in 1971. It’s a very good record and I recommend you give it a spin.

Listen to Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

Buy Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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3 Responses to "Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin"

  1. hm insulators says:

    Once upon a time, there was a morning drive-time radio personality in Los Angeles named “Sweet” Dick Whittington. His favorite song from the “Pearl” album was “Mercedes Benz” and he played it every morning for months. This was in 1971.

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  3. Tony R says:

    You know I’ve had the Janis Joplin topic come up with some people a few times. When I say “You know she really only had 2 top 40 songs. One in a group and one as a soloist.” I get looks like I just threw up on the table. People swear she had several hits. Likely now I can get out my smartphone and look it up with the internet. It amazes me that people think she had several top 10 hits. It is obvious that huge fans of her feel a kind of hit in the stomach so to speak when you say this. I don’t criticize her, because I have no problem people liking her. I like songs that other people just hate as well. It’s just funny how people will argue with you that she charted more than these 2 times. I guess it kind of makes her legend seem sort of less glorious than people think. Though the album did spend something like 9 weeks at number one.

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