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Janis: Her Life and Music

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,147 ratings  ·  440 reviews
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 fin
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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A stunning portrait of the troubled, restless soul behind the big, brash, larger than life persona that was Janis Joplin-

Holly George-Warren is a seasoned music biographer, but this is the first book I’ve read of hers. Even with all her experience, the author chose to write about a person who was incredibly complex, conflicted, driven, unconventional and tormented. I would think that writing a biography over Janis would be a daunting task and more than a little intimidating. However, the author
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 w
Nat K

”When I sing, I feel like, oh, when you’re first in love.”
- Janis Joplin

I love a good music bio. Reading about the creative process. The muse that drives it. The lifestyle which is unlike what most could ever imagine. The all encompassing adoration of the crowd. The heat of them. The comedown after a concert. The loneliness of life off the stage. In a nutshell, I live vicariously through these types of books.

I've read a few bios about Janis previously, and enjoyed them very much. I was both curi
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 wa
Valerity (Val)
Welcome to the late 1960s, the time of Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison and others. As a nervous Janis Joplin is trying to make a go of it with the band called Big Brother and the Holding Company. They start playing gigs all over and learning to mesh together and get better as they do. Janis really starts to come into her own with her singing and stage presence and the audiences go wild for her. Word spreads and she begins to get some good reviews. They finally g ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Janis Joplin died from a heroin overdose at the tender age of twenty-seven. That's the single fact that people of a certain age know about her life. It's the unfortunate asterisk that accompanies the posthumous reputation of a talented, passionate woman who was so much more than the tragic way in which she left us.

I went through my own sheltered-lass-set-loose-upon-an-unsuspecting-world phase in my late teens and early twenties. I consumed colossal amounts of alcohol in various forms, but I was
Bill Kerwin

Holly George-Warren, without glossing over the trouble-making, risk-taking, sexually-free Queen of psychedelic rock 'n' roll, also shows us Janis' other sides: the small town girl who kept a scrapbook of social engagements, the intellectual who devoured Kerouac and the beats, the thirteen-year-old Elvis fan who may have adored "Hound Dog," but preferred Big Mama Thornton’s original to the King's.

Of paramount importance is George-Warren's emphasis on Janis' professionalism. In her view, the star
Janis: Her Life and Music

She takes my breath away. It is astonishing that she was the same age as my mother, and yet seems closer in age to me. Although I’ve spent many hours with guitars, bandmates and singing on my own, listening to favorite groups and collecting favorites like the rest of the world, my Janis Joplin blindspot has been significant. Prior to reading this book, I knew her name, knew she was loud and a trouble magnet. I always thought she was entrancing in a witchy way, full of po
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fin-2020, music, music-f
Going into this memoir, I knew that Janis had had an unhappy life for the most part. I didn't realize until reading this biography, just how heartbreaking it had been. This is not a fun filled romp through fame and success. It's more a glimpse of how, even with a successful career, a person can be lonely and depressed.

I want to throttle Janis's two "best" girlfriends from high school. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Before she gave up trying to in, Janis hung out with these 2 girls wh
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biography chronicles the train-wreck life of Janis Joplin. She was different from her 1950’s peers in conservative Port Arthur, Texas, dressing like a beatnik when the other girls wore bobby socks and poodle skirts, getting a reputation that horrified her mother. She was by all accounts a wild child, challenging her parents but craving their love; they were unhappy when she claimed that they threw her out of the house, which apparently wasn’t true. The book brings a sense of immediacy to he ...more
Pam Walter
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
So what does an adolescent girl do when she faces social rejection? Why of course, she rebels. Thus began the roller coaster life of the most iconic female rock vocalist of all time.

Janis Joplin was the eldest of three children born to doting parents in Port Arthur, Texas in 1943. She was an intelligent tomboy as a youngster and had trouble fitting in with her peers. She dealt with rejection by rebelling; eventually abandoning youthful dreams of family and picket fences in favor of counter cult
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holley George-Warren spent 4 years writing this book and notes that this is the span of Janis’s career. In those 4 years Janis left an enduring mark and in her 4 years of research and writing George-Warren has written what may be the definitive work. She shows the stages of Janis’s life and how they segued into her career through interviews, Janis’s letters, and 1960’s print and TV items. Due her short life (27 years), the author is able to give detail as well as the big picture.

It’s hard to env
NetGalley ARC.

Dull, dull. So disappointed. This was a blow-by-blow chronological biography. So there was a lot of unnecessary minutiae that really took away from the excitement of JANIS JOPLIN. Like, hello? She's one of the coolest female rockers EVER and this book hardly portrayed that. You have to slog through at least half the book of her parents' childhoods, her childhood, her schooling, finally her musical tastes and influences, and then the good stuff. Meh. I could've done without it.
M. Sarki
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

More is generally made of Janis Joplin being outrageous and provocative in order to draw attention to herself. A smart, but troubled child, who could never overcome her need to be loved. Contrary to Bob Dylan’s great song, She Belongs to Me, Joplin was an artist who did look back. What is not made enough of was Joplin’s personal style, her acceptance of her inadequate body, and the courage she displayed in posing nude.

...Just four days before her death o
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dozens of books have been written about Janis Joplin. As a fan, I’ve read many of them, and know the gist—they follow the tale of a sad girl, bullied throughout her youth who joined the counterculture to find acceptance, skyrocketed to rockstar fame with a larger than life voice, and met an untimely death by an accidental overdose. Here though, Holly George-Warren shares a much fuller picture: we get the full Janis, starting with the smart girl who skipped a grade in school and was the apple of ...more
Lee Husemann
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 thi ...more
Antonia Casey
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Janis Joplin was an idol of mine as an angsty young teen. As I matured, my attitude toward her gradually shifted from admiring an older, more experienced woman to marveling at the power that emanated from someone so terribly young and fragile. There is simply nothing uplifting about the tragic tale of her brief life. However, Holly George-Warren relates it very affectingly, without sensationalism, and with the respect and affection Janis always craved but never found.
Paul Ataua
I have always been fascinated by Janis Joplin. At a time when we were all trying to find ourselves existentially, she was the one that seemed to be living her life straight. She was doing things in good faith while we were just making empty gestures towards being who we were. The book seems like one sad testament to a character who was one of those rare characters who was determined to do exactly what she really wanted to do, but at no point really knew what she really wanted to do. There’s lots ...more
Janis has always had a piece of my heart, and Holly George Warren actually chipped away a bigger piece of my heart for Janis, which I give freely.

“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.”
~ Janis Joplin
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I was never a super fan of Janis back in the late 60’s and early 70’s but her talent was undeniable. This book though, brings that timeframe (one of my personal favs) back to life, and reveals the real Janis from childhood, toward every step of her rise to rock queen. She wanted it so badly and she worked so hard for everything achieved.
She was smart, just a tad naive at times, but she knew what she wanted and no one was going to stand in her way to get there.
She was also kind, with a huge hea
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t read a memoir/biography in about 7 years , this story of Janis Joplin’s life was wonderful . I strongly suggest listening to her music while you read as it gives every song and lyric so much more meaning. She is and will always be one of my favorites
Kara Thomas
I won this in a giveaway other I probably would have never picked it up, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. While reading it, I had a desire to listen to some of the more commonly mentioned songs. I realized that I had probably heard the chorus to Piece of My Heart hundreds of times but had never listened to entire song. I don’t particularly enjoy her sound, but it amazing what she stood for and how she battled demons. The book seemed well researched and mentioned several other artist ...more
Andy Miller
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was walking between high school classes when I overheard someone say that Janis Joplin had just died. It wasn't a complete shock, Jimi Hendrix and other young musicians had recently died of overdoses and Joplin's persona certainly included a wild lifestyle with drug use. But her death still hit hard, she was larger than life and I so loved her music. My favorite album of hers, Pearl, was released after her death, and we played it over and over again, especially "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Merced ...more
Lisa Bowen
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel that this book was missing something. When I read a book about someone life I want to feel like i know that person. The author did not do it. I have to said that the author had a lot of good facts about her and her life. I feel she was a very sad individual. She had a hard life at a young age. I love the ending of this book.
Caroline Leavitt
I wasn't sure that there was anything about Janis Joplin that might be new to say, but this bio was exhilarating. Fresh, different, it gets at the soul of Janis herself, from childhood to stardom. Plus, the writing is so great, so immersive, it gives you this you-are-there feeling. ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a sad, sad book. We all know the arc of Janis Joplin's life story and it's difficult to read the runaway train wreck her life became which this biography so well details.

It seems to me, some people are just born with a void in their soul which they desperately try to fill. Regardless of her upbringing - Janis had devoted and loving parents who provided her with a stable home life and encouragement, loving siblings, good friends and (up to a point) good academic skills. AND TALENT. OMG w
Since I saw the movie The Rose , way back in the late '80 - and I just dated myself - I began listening and appreciating Janis's singular voice and music.

That movie made me curious , as it was loosely based on her tumultuous life .

Through the years, I read few articles and saw TV clips of Janis performing but always wanted to know more of her as a person , as a woman , as daughter and as an artist. The complete psychological makeup of who she was and how she became Janis, the persona , the Ico
Elly Sands
Years ago at one of her concerts in Philadelphia she handed me her bottle of Southern Comfort to take a swig from and of course I did. So there it is my one and only claim to fame that any chance I get I tell it! Although this historic event wasn't in Warren's book everything else was. A thorough retelling of her life. It got bogged down for me in specifically relating all the gigs she did before her fame. Her childhood years were fascinating and seeing the personality she grew into. It's ironic ...more
Eva Smith
Oct 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Big thumbs down. This is the sixth book I have read about Janis Joplin and I didn’t expect to learn anything new. But I didn’t expect sloppy journalism that includes idle tittle-tattle. The author apparently interviewed anybody and everybody who would say he/she had sex with Janis. Buzzards picking her bones.

Adding insult to injury, the author cites a couple of what sounded like joking remarks and writes that Janis turned to prostitution on a couple of occasions. Nonsense.

And there is a big gaff
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Review... 1 4 Jan 18, 2020 02:09PM  
NetGalley Readers: This topic has been closed to new comments. Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren 13 37 Sep 07, 2019 11:39AM  

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