Skip to content


Two of my favorite artists Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin are up on a poster at the National Portrait Gallery in the Ballyhoo! exhibit. I think back to the songs I sang with them. Not many people my age have their albums on vinyl, but I do. I admire them, so it is hard to look a Jimi and Janis displayed in this manner on a pill with the word “winner?” titling them. It’s as though they have been summed up. Their entire lives have been encapsulated in this pill. I’m too young to remember them–they died of drug overdose sixteen years before I was born, but it seemed like they were with me while growing up. Psychedelic rock evolved from artists use of drugs. It has run its course and started to die when Janis and Jimi did.
The poster is part of an anti-drug campaign that was started in 1971 by President Nixon. The designer has taken two very well known musicians and used their deaths to warn viewers of the dangers of drugs with just one word: “winner?”. Posing this as a question in some respects they were winners with based on the success they had gained through their music and in other respects not because of their link into drugs. They are both shown with their eyes closed. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so with their eyes clothes it feels as though we can no longer see into their souls. Just as with their death we can no longer see them and experience what they put their hearts and souls into.