Love, Janis

Love, Janis

by Laura Joplin


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A revealing and intimate biography about Janis Joplin, the Queen of Classic Rock, written by her younger sister.

Janis Joplin blazed across the sixties music scene, electrifying audiences with her staggering voice and the way she seemed to pour her very soul into her music. By the time her life and artistry were cut tragically short by a heroin overdose, Joplin had become the stuff of rock–and–roll legend.

Through the eyes of her family and closest friends , we see Janis as a young girl, already rebelling against injustice, racism, and hypocrisy in society. We follow Janis as she discovers her amazing talents in the Beat hangouts of Venice and North Beach–singing in coffeehouses, shooting speed to enhance her creativity, challenging the norms of straight society. Janis truly came into her own in the fantastic, psychedelic, acid–soaked world of Haight–Asbury. At the height of her fame, Janis's life is a whirlwind of public adoration and hard living. Laura Joplin shows us not only the public Janice who could drink Jim Morrison under the table and bean him with a bottle of booze when he got fresh; she shows us the private Janis, struggling to perfect her art, searching for the balance between love and stardom, battling to overcome her alcohol addiction and heroin use in a world where substance abuse was nearly universal.

At the heart of Love, Janis is an astonishing series of letters by Janis herself that have never been previously published. In them she conveys as no one else could the wild ride from awkward small–town teenager to rock–and–roll queen. Love, Janis is the new life of Janis Joplin we have been waiting for–a celebration of the sixties' joyous experimentation and creativity, and a loving, compassionate examination of one of that era's greatest talents.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060755225
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/16/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 351,650
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.16(d)

Read an Excerpt

Love, Janis

By Laura Joplin

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Laura Joplin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060755229

Chapter One

October 1970

What good can drinking do?
What good can drinking do?
I drink all night,
But the next day I still feel blue

-- Janis Joplin, "What Good Can Drinking Do?"

In the fall of 1970 I was living a graduate student's bohemian life in a roomy Victorian apartment in a seedy neighborhood in south Dallas, Texas. Sunday afternoon, October 4, 1970, I spent quietly at home. I made myself a cup of tea and stepped from the kitchen to walk through the dining room. Pouring through the large window, the brilliant afternoon sunshine soaked my body.

I paused as thoughts fleetingly passed through my mind until I was grabbed by an overwhelming desire to speak with my sister. I hesitated, thinking of the trouble I would have if she didn't answer the telephone -- the difficulty of trying to prove to whoever picked up the phone that I was really Janis Joplin's sister. Then the hesitation vanished. Walking toward the telephone, I was thrilled by that unique bond I had with my older and more daring sister.

I had last seen Janis during the middle of August 1970. Our relationship had a special constancy that went beyond time apart and dissimilar lives. We didn't always agree and sometimes shared heated words about our differences, but that would drop away each time we met. In August we had talked about sex, romance, marriage, careers, cars, houses, clothes, our hometown, her fame, and our family. When we parted, we had planned to get together in California at Christmas, when I had time off from graduate school.

By the time I walked across the yellowed oak floor to the telephone beside my bed in the living room, the compulsion to call had evaporated. I felt no reason even to try. But the thought would come back to me that night. Why hadn't I called? I went to bed early, readying myself for a busy class schedule the next day. I was fast asleep, relaxed under the quilts, when the telephone rang.

"Janis is dead," my father's tense voice stated simply. It was one o'clock early Monday morning. The startling words seemed unreal. I pulled myself from sleep just enough to answer, "No." He repeated, "Janis is dead." I shook my head as though trying to throw the unwanted words out, repeating insistently, "No." Shock slammed into my heart and hardened it like ice crystals. Janis was dead.

My roommate appeared from her bedroom, knowing something was wrong. "Janis is dead," I repeated to her. She disappeared and reappeared with two aspirins and a glass of water. "What are these for?" I asked. "Take them," she urged, trying to give me the kind of comfort an American knew best. I downed them, knowing I hadn't the vaguest idea of how to stop the ache. I cried myself into a troubled sleep, wondering, Why didn't I call her this afternoon?

The next day my parents telephoned, saying they were going to Los Angeles to settle Janis's affairs. My brother, Michael, and I did not go, as our parents wanted to keep us away from the cameras and press attention. Crowds of people had gathered outside the Landmark Hotel, where she lay, as word slowly spread among her friends. Police stretched out the official yellow KEEP OUT ribbons and the crowd milled and shivered in confusion, frustration, grief, and shock.

Mother's sister, Barbara Irwin, lived in Los Angeles, and she helped my parents with the necessary arrangements. They met Janis's attorney, Robert Gordon, whose elegance and firmness both comforted and frustrated them. From Bob they learned the details of Janis's death and about the stipulation in her will that her body be cremated and her ashes scattered off the California coast near Marin. My parents were anguished. Not only had they lost their firstborn daughter, but they couldn't even take her home for a proper burial.

Before he left Texas, my father had told me that they weren't sure of the cause of Janis's death. It might be a drug overdose, but it could also be that she passed out, fell, and suffocated in the shag carpet. When they got to California, they neglected to call me, they were so consumed by their duties there. I wandered around Dallas in a vacuum of facts, hearing the litany on the radio and the gossip of the partially informed in the halls of Southern Methodist University's classroom buildings.

I became furious at those faceless rock-and-roll people who had considered themselves Janis's friends. How could they let her do heroin? Everyone was doing drugs, including me, but heroin was different! She should have known better! They should have stopped her! Didn't anyone care enough to intervene? I chastised myself for not having been a better sister and knowing about the heroin. Why didn't someone do something? Most of all I blamed her role as the Queen of Rock and Roll, that lofty perch from which no mortal woman could hear caution or wisdom.

The coroner's report was soon final, and the verdict was an overdose of heroin. She had only been using for a few weeks, taking it as a late-night relaxer every third day or so, after a hard day recording a new album for Columbia Records.

My parents wrangled with Bob Gordon, and he fretted with the press, the police, and the coroner to ensure a quiet ceremony for the family to pay their last respects. In a funeral chapel they said goodbye to Janis while my brother and I both sat in confused isolation in separate Texas towns.

Nothing showed the weaknesses in our family quite like the way we handled Janis's death. We had no funeral to attend as a family. There was no grave for a later pilgrimage. There was no wake full of loved ones who could share our affection and our loss. We cried alone ...


Excerpted from Love, Janis by Laura Joplin Copyright © 2005 by Laura Joplin. Excerpted by permission.
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Love, Janis 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In The book Love, Janis Linda Joplin is telling the life of Janis Joplin, through her sister¿s eyes. Using old letters and her own knowledge about her sister. In this amazing book about the life and times of Janis Joplin, you will end up feeling like you knew and loved her yourself. Linda Joplin does a great job of portraying the best times of her sister¿s life and the worst tragedy¿s Janis experienced in her short but unforgettable life. While I was reading this book every page I read I got more and more enthused! Janis growing up in Austin TX starts singing around bars of the small country towns. Getting a call from an old friend saying that he can get her an audition for a band, Janis runs to Sanfransisco. Starting out in the band Big Brother and the holding co. Janis starts her legacy. Having a constant battle fighting her drug addiction, while reading this book that made it an exciting turn pager. This book was the best book I have ever read. It was exciting and gives you a rush never knowing what is going to happen from one page to the other. I personally think this book has no weak points. This book is fun, emotional, funny and depressing all at the same time. It helps you to see what is important in life. I think that everyone should go out and read this book, its is a perfect book to read any time. There¿s never a dull moment.
EbonyHaywood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is authored by Joplin's sister, so it's a bit biased. However, Laura Joplin doesn't gloss over and romanticize her sister's life. She is honest about her sister's rise and fall. She exposes both the good side and the not so good side of Janis while preserving the integrity of Janis and all those within her social orbit. From this book I learned that Janis Joplin was an aspiring artist. She loved drawing and painting. I also learned that she fell victim to fame as she tried to live out her rock star persona in every facet of her life.
PhDrSeuss More than 1 year ago
this book told so much bout her & her life. i read lots of things in this book that i didnt even know nor aware of. janis sure did lead/have a helluva life. i dont know the last time i read a book so fast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindseyae More than 1 year ago
Having been raised around music from the 60's and 70's era, I quickly became a fan of Janis Joplin at a very young age. In this book written by her sister, she captures the readers attention with every detail of every moment in Janis's life. After reading this I felt as if I had known Janis forever. You get to become familiar with Janis the "Rocker" and Janis the normal, just your everyday girl looking for her place and longing for acceptance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book. I started reading it not really knowing anything about Janis. It was quite interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
30at50 More than 1 year ago
While I was reading the book the play came out at the Downstairs Cabaret Theater in downtown Rochester New York. I went to see it and it was Just AWESOME! I have read this book and the book by Myra Freidman. I wanted to know the woman behind the voice and now I think I understand. I feel like I know her. I should have been so luckey!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Laura Joplin tells the story of her sister whiih became a rock star. The story unfolds on her succes with music, her love for alcohol,love affairs and the family relationships. Also Insight on how she was perceived by her peirs. Touching story that end in a New York hotel room...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't think that 'Buried Alive' is better than this book, like one of the reviews say. I felt it is a book with deep insight, especially the aurther pointing out that it is part of the American culture to use medication to ease our pain , drugs from asprin to heroin. Janis was lonely and nobody came close enough, it was too much of a trouble to understand her, she needed too much warmth and nobody wanted to embrace her that long, it would have taken so much time to heal her. So she took up a pain killer called heroin that was thrown in front of her, so she can suppress it alone and nobody can be bothered about her pain, and everybody was happy.Including her family.Very American. Until she died. I do feel Laura is trying her best to understand her sister, but she does not understand how it is to have such a strong energy in a dull place, the isolation and unworthiness that arises by not able to feel content in a family she loves. But it was a great book, a must read.