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‘Janis’ reveals the complicated woman behind the rock legend

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Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin in 1969.
Evening Standard/Getty Images, via NPR

Janis Joplin is an icon — and rightly so. A female who commanded the stage with her confidence, sexuality and growl, at a time when rock was still an all-boys club, she broke rules and set a new course, for music and the women who would follow in her tracks. Joplin’s life came to an abrupt end in 1970 when she overdosed on heroin at the age of 27. But her story still resonates — maybe even more so today, says author Holly George-Warren. A woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was acceptable, Joplin was both a rebel and a perfectionist.

“[Joplin] never compromised her vision,” writes George-Warren. “Just four days before her death on October 4, 1970, she told journalist Howard Smith, ‘You are only as much as you settle for.’”

Listen in as MPR News host Kerri Miller and author George-Warren discuss the influence — and listen to the music — of Janis Joplin.

Correction (Oct. 29, 2019): The story has been updated to correct the date of Joplin’s death. 


Use the audio player above to hear their discussion.

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