Inspired by an emotional memorial celebration held for Janis Joplin 18 years after she died from a heroin overdose in 1970 at a Hollywood hotel, Janis’ younger sister, Laura Joplin, wrote a book about Janis because she wanted to understand more about her sister’s legacy, what she meant to people and “what she went through in her life to get there.” Published in 1992, Love, Janis features intimate letters Janis wrote to her family while becoming a rock ’n’ roll legend and has been transformed into a musical debuting in Los Angeles this week.

What’s most unique about this musical is that every word you hear on stage is from one of Janis’ letters or interviews. It’s her story told with her own words.

Laura Joplin was recently kind enough to answer a few questions about “Love, Janis” and the sister she lost.

Is the tone of “Love, Janis” joyous or tragic?

Well, there’s no doubt that Janis died; she dies every performance. But at the same time it’s a celebration. You get to go through the ups and downs with her and spend time laughing one moment and crying the next. By the end you feel good because you’ve enjoyed a genuine connection to this incredible, interesting person.

What do you think people will like most about the musical?

It’s a really good time. When I see people walk out of the musical, they’re happy, animated … talking about it. If you ever wanted to know why the ’60s were so important to us, this show is a great way to understand that because it takes you through the experiences of a young girl as she becomes a rockstar in that time period.

Your sister has been called a social icon. What would you say she represents?

Janis was someone who took off and pursued her dream. We all have dreams, but we don’t always take off and pursue them. In “Love, Janis” she allows people to go on that journey of dreams. I’m reminded of a quote of hers where she says, “Be true to yourself because your self is all you got.” That’s who she was.

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