Many people grow
up in the shadow of an older sibling or an over achieving parent and feel like they always have to measure up, or that they’re
being compared to, the siblings or parents. It’s well known that these environments create its fair
share of emotional baggage and debris.
Michael Spörke’s brilliant book, “Living with the Myth
of Janis Joplin”, gives the low down on an inverted version of this type of environment. The book
chronicles the history of Big Brother and the Holding Company that was the first band that Janis Joplin worked with and who
was the catalyst for her meteoric rise to fame.
Notice that I didn’t say that BBHC was her back-up band.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Janis Joplin hit the hippie scene of San Francisco with
dreams of being a singer. The problem was that she didn’t have a band. Through some already well
documented introductions, she was invited to join the already successful Big Brother and the Holding Company.
With incredible research and exhaustive interviews, Spörke has put together a definitive
history of this legendary band and its members. He gives appropriate historical backgrounds of each of
the members of the band and the thoughts and perspectives that each of them had of each other, of Janis joining the group,
and their life after Janis dumped them.
Unlike other books that mention the band as being in the shadow of Janis,
there are no lurid details that cater to certain people’s prurient and voyeuristic interests. Just
great, insightful information about the major players in this bands history is offered up. It’s a
great, clean “read”.
What’s also detailed very thoroughly is the schism that was caused
when the band was being categorized as Joplin’s “band members”. While the perception
is understandable, the book details why this caused the expected angst among the band and the residual effects on some of
the members for years after Janis’s untimely death.
The book provides what the band members have been up to from the time
of Joplin’s departure from BBHC to the time of the completion of the manuscript (2004). You’ll
finish the tome with the knowledge that each the gentlemen are multifaceted, complex and highly talented individuals who make
a lasting impression wherever they go.
The book was originally published in German. What
turns out to be an incredible touch and brilliant stroke of genius, Spörke worked with founding BBHC member, and expert
linguist, Sam Andrew, to translate the book from German into English for publication in the U.S. Andrew’s
expertise with languages and the turn of an English phrase adds additional depth and insight into this must have book for
BBCH and Janis Joplin fans.
If you're a Baby Boomer or just someone who loves and appreciates the music of
the 60's and 70's, you'll want to buy two of these books. Why? Because,
undoubtedly, you know someone who will also enjoy this incredible book.
You can order this book at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or, being the incredibly nice and
thoughtful guy that I am, you can click on the link at the top of this page and order now.