Books

Confidant's Janis Joplin Memoir Is One of the Best Yet

On the Road with Janis Joplin By John Byrne Cooke Berkley, 432 pp., $26.95.

Popular conception of Janis Joplin is that of the bluesy, boozy, hey-lawdy-mama who was a fireball onstage in a swirl of hair, sequins, fringe, and Southern Comfort. And with a raw, raspy voice that could take tunes by songwriters ranging from George Gershwin and Jerry Ragovoy ("Time Is On My Side") to Kris Kristofferson to church hymns and make them her indelible own.

That conception is true. But, as this exceedingly well-written and descriptive memoir by Cooke -- her former road manger, friend and confidant -- makes clear, that was hardly the only side to the girl from Port Arthur, Texas.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero