Country Joe McDonald was the lead singer of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Country Joe and the Fish.
McDonald has recorded 33 albums and has written hundreds of songs over a career spanning 40 years. He and Barry Melton co-founded Country Joe & the Fish which became a pioneer psychedelic rock band with their eclectic performances at The Avalon Ballroom, The Fillmore, Monterey Pop Festival and both the original and the reunion Woodstock Festivals.
I was in Santiago, Chile, producing the music to a left-wing movie (Que Hacer) directed by Saul Landau, Nina Serrano and Raúl Ruiz. I got the news: Janis Joplin was dead! She was found in a motel room in Los Angeles choked on her own vomit while high on heroin. She was not yet 30 years old. She was recording with her new band and on top of the world: becoming rich, famous and a "super star." Like the upcoming elections in Chile it seemed as though it was the beginning of a brand new day ... but it wasn’t.
A few days later in the remote copper mining town of Copiapó I burned a candle at a small religious shrine in memory of my old girlfriend.
That evening I decided to walk up the mountain that was very close by and spend the night up there. I took a flash light and a bottle of pisco and a sleeping bag. I walked up the mountain and spent the night up there. The next day I walked down and wrote the song "Copiapó" about my experience.
-Country Joe McDonald