Janis

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

Following her breakout performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 Janis Joplin catapulted to stardom. Although it seemed like Joplin was an over night success, she cultivated her voice and singing style from an early age, mimicking classic blues performers such as Bessie Smith. But Joplin was plagued with a dark outlook on life that she held at bay with substance abuse.

In Janis: Her Life and Music, biographer Holly George-Warren thoroughly records the ups and downs of Joplin’s short life. Although Joplin perpetuated a myth of being a misunderstood and neglected child, her parents doted on her and accommodated her creative interests. Their influence showed in Joplin’s voice, which she inherited from her mother, and an intellectual curiosity and love of reading, which she learned from her father.

Janis (digital galley, Simon & Schuster) recounts Joplin’s rich life, from her youth in Port Arthur, Texas to her rise to fame in San Francisco with Big Brother and the Holding Company. While in high school in Port Arthur she frequented nearby Louisiana clubs where she heard R & B and “swamp pop music.”

After high school Joplin enjoyed fits of creative genius and her talents shone when she went to college in Austin, where she fell in with like minded musicians. But Joplin had recurring problems with drug and alcohol abuse and at times resorted to dealing and turning tricks to earn cash. Her journey eventually led to San Francisco where she explored her music and a wider array of drugs. She eventually joined Big Brother and the Holding Company, a band that, although not up to Joplin’s level of talent, helped launch here to stardom.

The well researched Janis gives performers, family and friends an opportunity to recount stories from Joplin’s life. With melancholy I read about her remarkable voice and performances that left audiences stunned, wondering what may have been. Joplin said she turned to heroin when “her feelings tormented her.” Unfortunately her life came to an end in 1970 with a fatal overdose.
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This is the best book I have read on Janis, and I have read them all! Absolutely brilliant, it delves directly into what made Janis, Janis. A must read for all lovers of her music. Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Shuster Publishing for the galley.  And thank you to Ms. George-Warren for writing this incredibly wonderful book! I have to say after reading this book, I feel I know Janis personally. Todays stars go to college and are educated in how to achieve status in rock and/or broadway. The artists in the 1960's just didn't have that knowledge. They were not educated in how to achieve and maintain success. Look at how many wonderful and talented artists died in the 27 club...Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis, Tim Buckley, and more. They were doing what they knew by the seat of their pants. Thanks again for this book. Its makes me incredibly sad for all of them. Just think if they knew how to handle things, where they'd be today!
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I'm a huge Janis Joplin fan and i think this is her best biography I read so far.
It's well researched and well written and I read as fast as I could as it's an engrossing read.
i think it's a must read for any rock fan.
I strongly recommend it.
I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
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I am not a Janis Joplin fan by any means, but am a rock biography fan.  I was constantly drawn to the riveting photo of Janis Joplin on this book's cover, and finally caved in to request an arc of this biography.  Sometimes I enjoy reading a biography of a person I know next to nothing about, as is the case here.  

This is a 400-page extensive biography tracking Janis Joplin's youth through her death in 1970 at the age of 27.  She grew up in Port Arthur, Texas to parents Dorothy and Seth Joplin and with younger siblings Michael and Laura.  She was sensitive, a deep thinker, avid reader, painter, and rebel/wild child.  She connected with her father on an intellectual level having serious philosophical conversations with him.  However, their relationship was inconsistent and sometimes they drifted apart.  She displayed an early uninhibited nature by playing sports topless as a pre-teen in the street with her young male friends.  She was always a square peg and was often teased and picked on in school.  As a teenager in high school she was incessantly marked as being loose with the guys, even though she was actually a virgin.  After so long being falsely accused of this, she eventually threw up her hands and adopted promiscuous ways.

Janis did go to a psychiatrist and psychologist while living in Port Arthur.  She latched onto alcohol early on.  Her parents couldn't keep her tethered to a cookie cutter normal lifestyle as they would wish.  Janis would try attending various colleges on multiple occasions, but then drop out.  In desperation, her mother came up with the idea of Janis attending a business school to learn accounting and typing with the goal of becoming a keypunch operator.  Janis actually excelled with this and was sent to live with her mother's sister in Los Angeles where she found a job.  However, Janis was lured by the easy atmosphere at Venice Beach, and later, San Francisco.  Not only was she artistic in the way of being an amateur painter, but possessed other creative gifts such as her love of reading (which lent to her practice of letter writing) and the orgasmic release she felt from singing.  Janis idolized soul singers such as Bessie Smith, "Big Mama" Thornton and Otis Redding, and began dabbling in performances at various locales.  

Janis was very bold and courageous, taking risks to try to realize her dream of becoming famous.  Everywhere she performed the audience would be blown away by the force of her performance.  By all accounts, she left every bit of herself out there with each performance.  One concert goer stated that she held back clapping after a couple of encores because she just didn't know how much more one person could be expected to give.  Once she met up with the band known as "Big Brother and the Holding Company", they enthusiastically welcomed her into the fold.  She considered herself part of this band, but everyone else focused particularly on her.  Eventually, as the band catapulted to fame, journalists would only wish to interview Janis rather than the other members of the band.  

Janis jumped into bed with fellow band members and enjoyed an endless array of other spontaneous intimate trysts- many with other music or entertainment celebrities.  Unfortunately, one of her guitarists introduced her to heroin, which she became addicted to; it numbed her emotional pain.  At one point before fame hit she dreamt of getting married with all the accoutrements like the white picket fence.  As she was content for awhile biding time in her Port Arthur, Texas home with her parents and siblings, she focused on acquiring items for her marital home, while she waited in vein for a marriage that never came.  She was betrayed by a man who lied about his financial, medical and romantic status, as he would continually produce excuses for stalling the marriage as he communicated from many miles away in New York. 

The Big Brother and the Holding Company backing band was deemed sloppy and insufficient to Janis's lofty singing standards, but she considered them family and stalled divorcing herself from them.  However, eventually the writing was on the wall and record executives demanded the change in order for Janis to achieve ultimate success.  

I was muddling through this book until about a third of the way and actually considered abandoning it, but am very glad that I stuck with it.  I became mesmerized by her fearless attack on life, where "anything goes" was the rule of the day.  Janis even had several female intimate relationships, along with the plethora of heterosexual ones.  Her heroin problem caused some people to leave her, but sometimes they would come back when Janis promised she was clean.  She would have periods of abstinence from it, but there was always the alcohol.  It was ultimately a hit of china white heroin (three times as strong as what she would usually use) that did her in, when no one was around to save her.  This was a fascinating account of a supernova so intense that it couldn't help but burn out too soon.  My favorite personal touch in the book was excerpts of her many letters written to her family.  Her sister Laura Joplin provided access to these and many other artifacts such as Janis's performance clothing.  Laura Joplin actually has her own book comprised of these letters called "Love, Janis" which I hope to one day read.  However, this is a quality biography which I truly enjoyed.  Even though I'm not a fan of her music, I still intend to check out some of her performances described in this book, since it clearly impressed so many others.
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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
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I have always loved Janis Joplin's singing, I didn't really know much about her though. This book was very in-depth and informative, I appreciate her music all the more now that I have read this detailed look into her life. I thought the book was very well balance for a biography, lots of information but never dry or boring, it did a great job of describing the time and places of Joplin's life.
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This book breathes life into the familiar rock star trope of hard work , success, drugs and death. You really get to know Janis and equally important the milieu in which she thrived particularly the avant garde San Francisco of the mid to late sixties. I grew up with Janis’ music but had no idea of where she came from and what type of person she was. I know now.
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As a college student at the time Janis Joplin died, I viewed her music as powerful and her early demise as unfortunate and sad. I read theNetGalley ARC to learn more, as I have fondness and interest in most music and artists of that era. I did learn details of nearly every gig she played, every person she slept with, and the widely varying reviews of her work at the time. But the key takeaway for me from author George-Warren’s detailed biography was that musically she was praised and admired almost unanimously by established performers of her time. Both her peers and blues legends she idolized and emulated described her as one of the most  amazing voices ever. (Think Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and her role model “Big Mama” Thornton, for example.) And tellingly, the author labels Janis the first female rock and roll superstar. That was a revelation. There’s a lot to appreciate here, if the reader has interest and patience.
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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.
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I didn't know much about Janis Joplin.  Mainly just that she died too young, was a 'hippie', and mostly I knew her by her great singing on "Piece of My Heart" and "Bobby McGee".  This book was obviously extensively researched with plenty of facts from her whole short life.  I was surprised to learn about the rather upscale family she came from and the fact she was such a good student in her younger years.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this book was the progression of history of music from the 50's and 60's.  Janis was influenced greatly by the blues and I learned about artists I'd only briefly heard of before.

Janis was a complex and sometimes confused person.  She had a great gift and it's a shame she didn't live long enough to share it for many more years.

A very interesting biography.
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This is the first book I've read by Holly George-Warren, a seasoned music biographer. I'm a HUGE fan of Janis Joplin and was excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of this book. Janis is such a complex, driven, restless and ultimately tormented person. I think that Holly George-Warren was the perfect person to capture Janis's spirit and energy thus giving us an incredibly intimate look at the person behind the image. What we get is so raw, real and incredible look into Janis's life. This was incredibly well researched and an amazing read that I highly recommend to any Janis Joplin fan.

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”
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📖 #bookreview 📖 ⠀
⠀
𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬: 𝐇𝐞𝐫 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐜⠀
Author: Holly George-Warren⠀
Genre: Biography ⠀
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟⠀
⠀
“𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘢 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘭𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘵 . . . 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘴 𝘐 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘪𝘵, 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥. 𝘕𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘥 & 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 . . . & 𝘐 𝘨𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘴—𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 . . . 𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘺, 𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘣𝘦 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦. 𝘓𝘰𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦!”⠀
⠀
I’ve always loved classic rock. Growing up, my parents had a massive record collection. I was raised on The Beatles, The Doors, The Who, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to name a few. Amongst all these long-haired, male dominated bands, there was the one and only, Janis Joplin.  Prior to reading this biography, 𝘑𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘴: 𝘏𝘦𝘳 𝘓𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤, Janis was always a mystery to me. All I really knew about her was that she died too young. Thanks to Holly George-Warren, Janis is no longer a mystery. ⠀
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In 𝘑𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘴: 𝘏𝘦𝘳 𝘓𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤, George-Warren finally gives Janis Joplin her due. Janis was an incredibly complex person. She was a poster child for “sex, drugs, and Rock ‘n’ roll.” However, underneath her wild and robust persona, Janis was also a very sad and lonely woman. This book was often difficult to read. It seemed as though Janis had very few real friends in her life. Drugs became her comfort and crutch. It’s hard to witness such an amazing talent turn to something so destructive for solace. Through interviews, diary entries, and letters, the author pieces together the short but significant life of Janis Joplin and it’s one that deserves your attention.⠀
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Thank you @simonandschuster and @Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. Opinions are my own. ⁣⁣⠀
⁣⁣⠀
𝘑𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘴: 𝘏𝘦𝘳 𝘓𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 is available today, October 22nd, 2019.
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Janis by Holly George-Warren is an incredible book. I've never been a fan of Janis Joplin's music. Jim Morrison and the Doors are rather my band. I came across this book and thought that its time to learn more about this girl who left the world when she was just 27 years old.
I am very impressed with her life described in this biography. Now I know so much more. I also enjoyed the connection that the author described between Janis, Jim, Jimi, Bob Dylan and many more. It is a book about a generation. It is a book about music. It is a book about a cultural scene. 
I recommend reading this book to people not only interested in Janis but to everyone how are curious about the 1960s.

 Thank you #netgalley for the advanced copy of the book.
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Janis Joplin’s music is something that my mother and I bonded over when I was a teenager. She introduced me to her as we were moving several states away from the only home I’d ever known as a young teen, and we continued to jam out to her music throughout my teenage years on the road home from more softball games and tournaments than I can count. I still listen to it often to cheer me up and when I am traveling. That being said, I am so happy that I read this book and learned more bout the woman who made this phenomenal music. Her life was fascinating to me, and I’m so glad that I was able to learn more about her. The book was well written and paced, and I think that those that are fans of her, music, or biographies in general would enjoy it.
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This was a very detailed, informative, and well researched book on the life of Janis that encompasses her short life and career. 
This award winning author was given access to the Joplin family and letters, diaries, interviews with the singers friends and band mates.
It was so sad how lonely and emotionally tortured Janis was growing up, and she actually fell into singing by accident.  
She LOVED Otis Redding and Bessie Smith.
The tragic thing was that as she became famous.. what she always really wanted was the ideal family life including the white picket fence.  
Sad that it never happened for her.
Love the cover!

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC
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I thought this was a really touching biography of Joplin that drew out her contradictions really well. On the one hand she was a polyamorous rule breaking wild child but on the other she wanted to live the American dream family life behind a white picket fence. George-Warren had great access and reading Joplin's letters gave us an unprecedented insight into her thinking.
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I have always loved Janis Joplin's voice. Her earthy vocals and the way she clearly put her soul into her performances makes her music so enjoyable for me. I knew she had a rough time growing up in Texas. I knew she was a bit of a rebel who lived life by her own set of rules. And I knew how she died. But I really didn't know much about her life, her friends and family, and her personality until I read this book.

I'm so glad I read this book! It gives intimate details about Janis' childhood and teenage years in Texas, her love of art, her discovery of music, bands she played with.....everything up to her death in 1970.

I get a bit emotional when I think about Janis' treatment by her high school classmates. She was different, outspoken and misunderstood. And she was bullied terribly for being herself. I had similar experiences in school. Kids can be cruel to anyone who stands out as different. As I read about her experiences growing up, I kept hearing her voice from a television interview in 1970 with Dick Cavet. She said "They laughed me out of class, out of town and out of the state. So I'm going home.'' She traveled home to Port Arthur, TX for her 10th high school reunion. Just a few months later she was dead of a heroin overdose. What a waste of such an awesome talent. I hope in the end she found peace and some pride in herself, her talent and her music.

This biography of Janis Joplin is well-written and obviously thoroughly researched. I had an amazing time reading! I'm listening to her music as I write this review. An amazing talent! The picture on the front cover is so hauntingly beautiful. What an amazing person she was -- you can see her fire, creativity and boldness reflected in her gaze. Just lovely!

I highly recommend this book to any Janis Joplin fan or those who enjoy 60s/70s music!

**I voluntarily read an advance review copy of this book from Simon & Schuster. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thanks so much for sharing your music with the world, Janis. RIP**
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Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-October.

The sentences of this biography take on a spoken-word cadence in a way that a reader might get stuck or stunted, going over a phrase twice or three times to cycle through its meaning and intent, and to pin its chronological place within the greater story. Furthermore, there are a lot of situations where people offer a he-said, she-said perspective to such a huge extent that things become overexplained. On the other hand, you learn of so many facets to Joplin’s personality - being inspired by her parents’ intellectual and expressive nature, seeking attention, tomboyish, willful, rebellious, taking to art, R-rated media, drinking and taking pills & intravenous drugs, rock & roll and blues music, road trips, a perfectionism streak, conducting interviews like a boss, micromanaging recording sessions maintaining relationships with other bands and vocalists, honoring her mentors alive and dead, not being seen for her intellect and artistry as much as her voice, undergoing stress and loss of community, gaining self-esteem and her own interests, being at home with herself, and going through phases of frantic haze and honest clarity.
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I'm not usually a biography reader, but I could not pass up the opportunity to learn about the ever iconic, Janis Joplin. This was a beautiful look at an artist I adore. As a performer, Janis is pure raw energy; a talent and stage presence that has not quite been matched or equalled since her passing. When you listen to Janis, your body vibrates with emotion. You can viscerally feel every single note and if you close your eyes it feels like you're there, in a dingy dive bar where only the strong survive. She was a remarkable artist, I always knew this, but it's her story that really captured me this time. Her willingness to put it all on the line and (outwardly) give zero f's is beyond commendable. Her internal struggle is heartbreaking to read about and it makes sense that her vocals are full of real emotion. She was a magnet. Audiences, fellow musicians and critics alike could not get enough of her, yet she felt terribly alone. This dichotomy is painful for the reader to comes to term with, but only adds to the allure and mysticism that was Janis Joplin.

Janis will forever be a steadfast fixture in rock and roll, blues, folk and r&b music. She has influenced countless musicians and will always be among the brightest and darkest stars in music history. This was a remarkably intimate look at a brilliant artist with the darkest of demons to contend with. Highly recommend this biography for Joplin fans, music fans and any one who loves a truly captivating story.
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A few years ago, there was a Broadway musical about Janis Joplin. I was lucky enough to see it and I spent most of the show in a puddle of tears because Janis, even portrayed by an actor, was such a powerful and mesmerizing person. Janis by Holly George-Warren did the same thing to me. I cried, I ached, I hurt. 

The world will never have another Janis. We were lucky enough to have her for as long as we did. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.
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