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Janis Joplin
The Flower Power generation had it wild. It was a time of hedonism, debauchery and indulgence, and nothing comes without a cost. Janis Joplin, was one of the victims of the lifestyle that led to her tragic end. Here's an account of her short, yet eventful life, leaving behind many questions and a legacy of some great music.

Janis Joplin - the premier white blues singer of the sixties, and certainly one of the biggest female stars of her time was a study in contrasts. Her tough blues-mama image only barely concealed her vulnerability. It was the same vulnerability that led to the various on and off-stage antics, leading to huge publicity about her sex life and problems with alcohol and drugs. Perhaps those were equally instrumental in making her something of a legend. Born into a comfortable middle-class family, Joplin was a loner by her early teens; she didn't care about the taunts on her drab dressing, unkempt hair and no make-up. But the truth was she cared dreadfully. A fact that led her to booze and drugs.

I was just a young chick, I wanted to get it on,' she said later. 'I wanted to smoke dope, take dope, lick dope, s#*k dope, f*$k dope, anything I could lay my hands on I wanted to do it, man.'

Janis sought release from her unloved appearance in music and drink and drugs gave her the courage to go on stage. Up there, she was a new, brash, confident personality. Gone were her shapeless old garments. In their place were feathers, beads and sexy dresses. Sometimes she would come on in a mini skirt with silver high-heeled boots and black net stockings. 'Stomping and posing like an imperious whore, stroking her mike and whipping her hair around,' is how one critic described her. There was this general belief that she could drive her audience to a frenzy before singing a word. But, there was something many didn't realize. It was all in an alcohol and drug induced state. She just couldn't perform without her aids. It had become an integral part of Joplin the performer, slowly seeping into the life of Janis who still couldn't come to terms with the early scars of her life.

She would drink a whole bottle of Southern Comfort during her act, and once said: When I get scared or worried I just say, 'Janis, have a good time,' I juice up real good and that's just what I have. I'd rather have ten years of super hypermost than live to be 70 sitting in some goddamn chair watching television.

Loneliness was her major ghost that kept gnawing her in private. Very few realised that the darling of the rock-loving, cheering crowd was so desperately lonely. After one concert she said sadly: 'I just made love to 25,000 people and I'm going home alone'.

Apart from booze and drugs, sex was her next big consolation machine. And, she made ample use of it. She constantly went for one-night stands with young boys, who she wouldn't even bother to know much about. Even with other known names she'd had smaller flings, a kind of distaste and boredom shrouding her mind pretty soon.

Janis had established herself pretty well up there in the firmament, touring constantly and making television appearances as a guest on many TV shows, apart from her regular shows that kept her on her toes all the times. Only the ghosts refused to be vanquished. As a matter of fact, the void was getting more evident for her, as during this time she became increasingly involved with alcohol and drugs.

You can read the rest of our feature on Janis Joplin in the June 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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