As a road manager and filmmaker, he helped run the Janis Joplin show—and record it for posterity. Now he reveals the never-before-told story of his years with the young woman from Port Arthur who would become the first female rock and roll superstar—and depart the stage too soon.
In 1967, as the new sound of rock and roll was taking over popular music, John Byrne Cooke was at the center of it all. As a member of D.A. Pennebaker’s film crew, he witnessed the astonishing breakout performances of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival that June. Less than six months later, he was on a plane to San Francisco, taking a job as road manager for Janis and her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. From then on, Cooke was Joplin’s road manager amid a rotating cast of musicians and personnel, a constant presence behind the scenes as the woman called Pearl took the world by storm.
Cooke was there when Janis made the difficult decision to leave Big Brother and form a new band. He was with her when the Kozmic Blues Band toured Europe in the spring of 1969, when they performed at Woodstock in August, and when Janis and Full Tilt Boogie took their famous Festival Express train trip across Canada. He accompanied Janis to her friend and mentor Ken Threadgill’s 70th birthday party, and was at her side when she attended her tenth high school reunion in Port Arthur, Texas.
This intimate memoir spans the years he spent with Janis, from her legendary rise to her tragic last days. Cooke tells the whole incredible story as only someone who lived it could.
©2014 John Byrne Cooke (P)2014 Penguin Audio
Having produced several shows with Big Brother & the Holding Company (2008 and 2010) and getting to know the band personally, I really enjoyed this book. It answered numerous questions and gave me a great insight into this legendary woman. I enjoyed listening to the book so much so that I was disappointed when the story ended with Janis's death.....it could have just as easily continued following the life of road manager/author/narrator John Cooke's and I would have been happy.
I got to see Her perform live several times so I was very interested to read her story. The account of her life Starts with the intro to many famous names and how she mixed into their lives. It was a great read.
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