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Janis Joplin's books

February 4, 2011 |  4:33 pm

Janisjoplin_1970

On Monday, the Hairpin paged through an old Janis Joplin bio, revealing what was in the iconic rocker's purse, circa 1970. Amongst the chaos of motel room keys, vintage cigarette holder, makeup, matches and (empty) bottle of Southern Comfort, there were two books.

The books were "Zelda," the biography of Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald by Nancy Milford, and Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel."

In 1969, L.A. Times writer Robert Hilburn called Joplin rock ’n’ roll’s biggest star. "People seem to have a high sense of drama about me," she told Hilburn backstage at the Hollywood Bowl. "Sure, I could take better care of myself. I suppose I could eat nothing but organic foods, get eight hours of sleep every night, stop smoking. Things like that. Maybe it would add a couple years to my life. But what the hell?"

Though reading "Zelda" might have served as a cautionary tale against a kind of recklessness, Joplin was living her life to excess. In October 1970, just months after that tour where she dumped out the contents of her purse, she was found dead in her motel room in Hollywood.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Janis Joplin in 1970. Credit: Associated Press

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