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The singer Janis Joplin’s childhood in a backwater Texas town, where her classmates punished her for her individuality, fuelled the compulsion to shock which became her hallmark.

This account of the forces that drove her through a short, impulsive life, to her death from a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven, encompasses her binges, her egotism, her insecurities, and her affairs with figures such as Jim Morrison, Kris Kristofferson and Jimi Hendrix, and many lesbian lovers.