Janis: Her Life and Music

Janis: Her Life and Music

by Holly George-Warren

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Longlisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock&Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476793122
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/22/2019
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 10,763
File size: 127 MB
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About the Author

Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author of sixteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang) and the biographies Janis: Her Life and Music, A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, and Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry. She has written for a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Entertainment Weekly. George-Warren teaches at the State University of New York in New Paltz.

Table of Contents

Introduction vi

Chapter 1 Pioneer Stock 1

Chapter 2 Tomboy 13

Chapter 3 Thrill Seeker 24

Chapter 4 "Beat Weeds" 36

Chapter 5 "18 and Fucked Up" 51

Chapter 6 Hell Raiser 66

Chapter 7 Waller Creek Boy 72

Chapter 8 Blues Singer 89

Chapter 9 Meth Freak and the Saturday Night Swindle 102

Chapter 10 Texas Coed 115

Chapter 11 Big Brother's Chick Singer 136

Chapter 12 "The Idol of My Generation" 157

Chapter 13 "Haight-Ashbury's First Pinup" 175

Chapter 14 Woman on the Verge 204

Chapter 15 "Rock Star Born on Second Avenue" 224

Chapter 16 Kozmic Blues 250

Chapter 17 Pearl 280

Acknowledgments 317

Notes 323

Bibliography 349

Index 353

Lyrics Credits 379

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Janis: Her Life and Music 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
VWilliams 19 days ago
The "beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas" set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, blues-driven songs. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went "Full Tilt Boogie" with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart from her peers and parents. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends and it was easy for her to discover an escape into music...and booze...and drugs...and sex. It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she would become a national star. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment. She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but no one could set a fire in her audience like that plaintive, pleading, raspy wail. No silver linings here--we all know the story and it doesn't end well. Janis's last album, "Pearl" was released three months after her passing in January 1971. If you've ever wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. It is a well laid out chronology of the tragic path and legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads. I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys celebrity biographies and well-written histories. Get to know Janis--the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.
CLynnT 22 days ago
It’s hard not to be somber throughout the reading of this book and while writing this review because we all know how the biography is going to end. But the humanity, love, and understanding Holly George-Warren uses to unfold Janis’s many layers of talent and emotion make it a book well worth reading. I became an avid Janis fan when I was a young girl. She could belt out her emotions, sing in a range of variations like no other, and my most favorite part, she was finally a girl like me doing what I loved and respected. I liked the other bands out there, but Janis was one of the very few female voices of that era and the only one of her time who could bring tears to your eyes. My heart broke when we lost her. I had learned snippets and bits about Janis over the years since her accidental death (I honestly can’t say she wanted out, she simply wanted to not feel for a minute), but this detailed book dwells on what’s important: Janis, her feelings, her thoughts, her letters home, and the overwhelming talent that she couldn’t grasp and rein in. What a beautiful portrayal of this young lady, her loving family, her good and bad friends. She was light-years ahead of her time. Holly, I thank you for showing respect to Janis and her memory. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for making it available.)
Svara 22 days ago
If you are a lover of all things Janis Joplin this is the only book you need. Intricate and so much detail you feel like her best friend that was right there by her side through everything. If you are a memoir reader this is one you should not pass up!
Anonymous 5 days ago
Oh Janis. We all know her music, we all love her, and we all think we know her. Reading this book helps provide so much insight into who she was that perhaps we can say “we know a little bit more about her now.” This is not only a biography great for her fans, but great for anyone who loves the biography genre. Janis was a force to be reckoned with who came from a tough beginning in life. She gave the world a beautiful peek into her soul with her music, then she was gone too soon. I loved this book and wish I could read it brand new all over again, but will have to read it all over again just now as brand new in my mind haha
Literaturebabe 5 days ago
This is an extremely well researched timeline biography of one of the greatest female rock voices of the 60's and 70's. This is not, by any means, an easy ride through her life. Janis Joplin lived and died tragically young- in the limelight under public scrutiny her struggles, abuses and successes are brought to life in this engrossing but tough read. Music was Janis and Janis was her music is the best way to describe how the author tackled this biography. The 2 are inseparable; the one fueled the other and Holly George-Warren captures her life through both lenses seamlessly. ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher Simon & Schuster, and author Ms. Holly George-Warren for the opportunity to read this Advanced Readers Copy.
Cozy Cat Reviews 6 days ago
This is quite comprehensive and a exciting read about her life from childhood to her sad end. I appreciate the author's attention to the dark issues that led her to a life of drugs and her very sad ending. The details here are remarkably detailed. The author did extensive research. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the ARC. Quite a fascinating read about a troubled sad singer who dreamed of only singing her unique music until life events, depression and nefarious people led her down a dark path. This is quite a poignant look back of the events of the turbulent sixties that framed her life and the struggles she faced as a outspoken independent artist of her time.
Tina-N-Tennessee 11 days ago
Janis Joplin was an icon who lived her life through music. Her life was filled with ups and downs. A roller coaster of highs and lows. She made strong and lasting friendships but was always searching for an elusive forever love, at times leaving her betrayed and always lonely. Holly George-Warren takes the reader on the odyssey of Janis's life. A life of non-comfority, rejection, strength, determination, depression, success, addiction, recovery and relapse. She would sing to hundreds and thousands of people and go home alone. The hardest thing for Janis was the loneliness. Depression was omnipresent in Janis's life causing her to turn to alcohol and drugs to cope. Maybe her father, Seth Joplin, was somewhat to blame for her outlook on life, Ever the defeatist, he would relay to her that life is filled with disappointment and unhappiness. He would advise her to accept this depressing fact and endure it. He called this the Saturday Night Swindle, leaving Janis with a dismal perspective. There was no female singer like Janis Joplin. Her bluesy style and range of voice was new and mesmerizing, something fresh and uniquely Janis. She was a shining star. If only that had been enough. Well written, captivating, sad and joyous, this book takes us from the beginning to the end of the life of Janis Joplin. It is a story you will definitely want to read.. *This book was graciously provided by the author, the publisher; Simon and Schuster and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
brf1948 15 days ago
I received a free electronic copy of this biography from Netgalley, Holly George-Warren, and Simon Schuster. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read Janis: Her Life and Music of my own volition and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. This is a book every woman should read. Janis was - and still is - an important factor in my lifetime. She was a wonderful musician, and she brought happiness or tears to your eyes with her songs. She was for me an example of taking the whole woman's lib thing at least one step too far - but oh, Lord, take a step or two down that road or no one else will acknowledge your independence and self-will. This book was a long, hard read. Watching the self-destruction at close range was if anything even more difficult than it was back in the day. But reading this made her legacy even more memorable, more important than before. So much of it was not shared with her public, or if it was we considered it to be sour grapes or jealousy. Through the eyes of Holly George-Warren, we not only see Janis falling into space - we also see her climbing the highest hill. She was a remarkable woman with an extraordinary talent. May her music live on into the lifetimes of our children and theirs, as well as the important lessons in prudence and self-esteem that Janis never found.
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com 16 days ago
Fascinating!! I've long been a fan of Janis Joplin's music, but can honestly say I have never read anything, or stumbled across anything, about her life and times before - at least The Life and Times that resulted in her turning into the musical genius she was on the whole. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The writing was excellent, written in an engaging narrative style that flowed beautifully and held my attention from the opening pages. Holly George - Warren is definitely on my to-be-watched biographer list now. I see she has several other rock and roll books, and I'm definitely going to be checking them out... Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my obligation-free review copy.
MartyPT 17 days ago
Comprehensive coverage of a person so far ahead of her times that it's a wonder she survived as long as she did. I was always a fan of her vocals, and that's when she first hit the airwaves with Big Brother. She was a mess personally, but her renditions of her songs were her heart laid bare. I found this to be meticulous in detail, the author is a fan, but didn't whitewash those details. Just the reference notes at the end shows the thorough research of her family and life. Her off the cuff comments about her childhood and family were shown to be all talk and that they did indeed love her, they just couldn't provide all that she needed. The ups and downs of her life were intelligently told and helped to explain those around her dealing with her as well as herself. One has to wonder if she had stayed on Lithium would she have needed the drugs and alcohol as much. It's a sad story of waste of talent and a life, but it's not presented as a sad story. It's a chronological unsympathetic telling of the facts of her life from start to finish. I only wish there had been more. The completed published book appears to have photographs, which I will like to check out, as the ARC from NetGalley did not include them, thanks to the ability to read this pre publishing.
kmjessica 17 days ago
Wow, I found this book very fascinating. This is the first biography I have ever read. The author wrote this book very well. By the end of the book I felt like I hung out with Janis for years of her life. The author started out with Janis's grandparents and gave you an idea where she came from. Then she went on to explain what her parents were like and how she was being raised. The author used genuine material she received from Janis's family and interviewed many of her friends and family to write the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt like I got to know Janis. The author also included a lot of information about the people Janis hung out with and met through the years of her life and included what it was like to live in that era. I really learned a lot from this book and would say if you want to read a biography about Janis Joplin this is the one to read. I give it 4 1/2 stars!
Reader4102 22 days ago
It is clear that Holly George-Warren spent a great deal of time researching Janis Joplin’s life. However, it is also clear that she used what she found as filler because she put much of it in this biography. For instance, she found that Joplin’s ancestors were early arrivals in the US and that tidbit found its way into the book in a very long and detailed section on Joplin’s ancestors that was inserted for no particular reason and reminds one of the begat section in Genesis. This book is 400 pages long for a singer whose entire career spanned only five years and three albums. Yes, Janis broke through barriers allowing women rockers coming up behind her to thrive. This would have been a much better book had the writer deleted a hundred or more pages of background research. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for an eARC.
Rhonda-Runner1 22 days ago
I was not a fan of Janis Joplin's music when she was popular but I watched a biography about her on TV and became interested in her. This was an excellent book about Janis from the time she was born until her tragic death at the age of 27. in 1970. It was well researched and well written and I had a hard time putting it down. I was surprised to find out what a talented artist she was as well as being a very talented musician. Even if you are not a fan of her type of music, I highly recommend this very interesting book. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this fantastic book in exchange for an honest review.
Janice Lombardo 23 days ago
A thorough and comprehensive look at the rise of the wildly talented Janis Joplin. From baby to adult, Janis' life is superbly chronicled along with that of her family, friends, and acquaintances. I was fortunate enough to see Janis on the stage once, in Chicago. Unfortunately, Janis' star still shines but without her. A must read for fans of Janis and those who have interest in the 60's. Recommend! Many Thanks to Simon a& Schuster and NetGalley for a gem of a read!