Dwight Garner at The New York Times:
Had she not died at 27 of an accidental heroin overdose, Janis Joplin would be 76 — two years younger than Paul Simon and four years younger than Mavis Staples. Singers with scorched voices sometimes settle more deeply into them. (Have you heard the most recent Marianne Faithfull album?) One wonders at the body of recordings Joplin might have made.
A new biography, “Janis,” by the music writer Holly George-Warren, performs a service by stripping away a lot of the noise around Joplin — cackling and bawdy, she was America’s first female rock star and Haight-Ashbury’s self-destructive pinup girl — and telling her story simply and well, with some of the tone and flavor of a good novel.
This is fundamentally an Eisenhower-era misfit story, and there are a lot of those. But Joplin’s story has a special freight of pain in it. Before it embraced her, Texas turned her into a pariah.