The undisputed queen of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, Janis Joplin was the "skyrocket chick" of the sixties, the woman who broke into the boys' club of rock and out of the stifling good-girl femininity of postwar America. With her incredible wall-of-sound vocals, Joplin was the voice of a generation, and when she OD'd on heroin at the age of twenty-seven in October 1970, the dreams of her generation crashed and burned with her.
Now Alice Echols pushes beyond the legendary Joplin--the red-hot mama of her own invention--and the equally familiar portrait of the screwed-up star victimized by the era she symbolized. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Echols reveals how this sweet-voiced girl from Texas re-created herself, first as a gravelly-voiced bluesy folksinger, and then as rock 'n' roll's first female superstar. She examines the roots of Joplin's musicianship and her efforts, both onstage and off, to live on what she called "the outer limits of probability," drinking and carousing like one of the guys, declaring herself the first "white-black" person, and pursuing sex with men and women alike.
Moving from the electric ballrooms of San Francisco to the mud-soaked fields of Woodstock, Joplin's story is also a chronicle of the revolutions of the sixties: how the misfit rebel kids of America became the "beautiful people" of Haight-Ashbury; how rock was transformed from the stepchild of the entertainment industry to its prize jewel; how a generation's experiment with high-risk living, what Joplin called the "superhypermost," exacted its terrible price. A deeply affecting biography of one of America's most brilliant and tormented stars, SCARS OF SWEET PARADISE is also a vivid account of an era that changed the world for us all.
"What's lacking here is Joplin's music: while Echols's is a convincing psychological and sociological portrait, we come away with little sense of the substance or quality of her records."
"The writing is routine and often clichıd....Without any starling insight into the cultural history of the '60s or, for that matter, the deeper reasons for Joplin's drug habit, the real mystery is why Echols felt compelled to visit this subject at all."
Alanna Nash, Entertainment Weekly, 03/19/1999