This funny, warm and achingly fragile side of the vocal powerhouse is revealed in Janis Joplin: Days & Summers, a new book that showcases the scrapbook Joplin kept during the time she shot to fame between 1966 and 1968. Packed with rare photos, articles, artifacts, letters, and in-depth commentary from friends, family and fellow rock icons, the first page features a question handwritten in her distinctive script: “Doncha wanta see me be a star?” It’s a line utterly devoid of hubris or ego. More than half a century after she put pen to paper, it’s impossible not to detect a desire to make the reader proud, and prove herself more than a misfit from a Texas oil town.
Her notes can be charmingly childlike, brimming with wonder and amazement as she gleefully takes in every moment of her ascent to rock royalty. “Your first-born is really doing great in the music business,” reads one letter to her family. “Did I tell you about all my reviews? Can I tell you again? This is all so exciting to me!”
The scrapbook is a touching self-portrait presented through mementos and small private moments, illustrating both how she saw herself and how she wanted to be seen. “You save stuff because it means something to you, and you can share it with somebody special,” says Michael. “That’s what this was for her.” For years, he and sister Laura — executors of their elder sibling’s estate — grappled with whether to keep the scrapbook private. “It’s so personal,” Michael admits. “It’s Janis’ handwriting and her notations and what she cut out of magazines with her little scissors in her apartment with her Elmer’s glue. The personal aspect is one of the reasons we hadn’t shared until now.”