Janis Joplin, 1942-1970
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October 8, 1970, Vol. XV, No. 41
By Howard Smith
LAST WEDNESDAY I TAPED a phone interview with Janis Joplin from California. I played it Sunday night on my radio show, only to wake up the next morning and find she had died that night.
During the interview she seemed pretty together and was happy with the album she was cutting with her new producer, Paul Rothschild. She said that the record was just about finished, but that they are still putting down more tunes -- some new, some old, one that she wrote herself. She told me that the album had "a more country-dash-blues feel than the rhythm and blues feel I was trying to get in the last record, but it's still got some r&b in it -- I don't know -- depends a lot upon the instrumentation of the band, and now I have no horns and a predominate keyboard sound."
One reason she said she was recording the album in California was "I just like the people's attitudes out here better -- they seem a little friendlier, a little less jaded, a little less anxious to be critical, more willing to just accept you and flow with it than back there where everyone seems to be trying to pick each other apart."
I asked if she was still as sensitive to articles criticizing her as she used to be. "Girls want to be reassured," she answered. "In my insides it really hurts if somebody doesn't like me -- it's silly..."
I started to ask her about her voice, but she cut me off: "I'm not losing my voice -- it's in better shape than it ever has been. Its' stronger than ever. As long as I don't have to work too much, if I only have to work three nights a week, I can last forever."
Right before I hung up, Janis seemed to get a little unsure. She was unnecessarily worried about some comments she had made earlier in answer to my questions about women's lib. She asked me to check it out with Myra Friedman at the Grossman office before airing. I did and Myra was surprised that Janis had worried about it, but asked me to leave those last few minutes of doubt out of the interview when I played it on the air.
Throughout the interview, Janis talked about how totally involved she had become with her music. She found it odd that people expected her to be into so many different things when her whole life revolved so entirely around singing that she really didn't have time for much else.
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