Tonight on the new Biography Channel series Final 24, Janis Joplin‘s last day is … well, celebrated? Dissected? I’m not sure what the tone will be. I don’t think I like the idea of a “last day in the life” series in the first place. I’d rather let Janis rest in peace.
But I did enjoy the TVGuide.com interview with Sam Andrew, the guitarist in Janis’ band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Actually, enjoy might not be the right word there either. I was shocked to learn that Janis was more than willing to sell her soul to be a star:
I remember driving on the Hollywood freeway one night and she said, “I’ll sell out. I’ll do anything they want me to do to be famous. Just show me where to sign my name on the contract.” It was kind of an epiphany. I was very surprised. But from a very early age, she knew where she was going and what she wanted. The rest of us were just hippies stumbling around.
This is like watching Debbie Harry disgrace herself on the Today show. I want my lady rockers to be anti-establishment badasses. Must we share Janis’ darkest secrets in posthumous profiles? I kind of doubt she’d want us to know some of this stuff. Or maybe she wouldn’t care, if it meant more fame:
TVGuide.com: It’s surprising to hear how much she wanted popular success, considering she’s remembered as a performer that challenged the status quo.
Andrew: Well, [Big Brother and the Holding Company] wanted to be part of the counterculture community in San Francisco, but she wanted to be a star. She really wanted to be Cher or Barbra Streisand. We didn’t know that when we first started playing together.
Who knows what Janis would have become if she hadn’t been so fatally sidetracked by the smack. Andrew suggests she might have done a jazz album or Broadway. She certainly had the chops for either:
Here’s another clip, from The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969:
OK, maybe I’ll watch Final 24 after all, if it means seeing more of Janis singing the blues.