TRUE TALES: Sex with Janis and the Edmonton Rock Music Festival

The question must be asked: What was it like making love to Janis Joplin?

Her one-time creative partner Sam Andrew replies, “Feathery, light and very feminine – way more feminine than I would’ve thought. I knew her really well. It wasn’t surprising, though. She was definitely all woman.”

It was just the one night of “wild, mad sex,” he says, well after they’d drifted apart as Janis became the star she’d always dreamed of being. Call it platonic break-up sex, if you like, break up sex being the most bittersweet of all sex, giving a whole new meaning to the word “closure.”

Andrew had to be talked into telling that tale.

The guitarist brings his legendary psychedelic band Big Brother and the Holding Company to Hawrelak Park on Saturday, part of the Edmonton Rock Music Festival featuring the “Heroes of Woodstock.” Country Joe McDonald will emcee, Canned Heat and Jefferson Starship will also perform, among others. We will be trippin’ in more ways than one.

The Janis story her guitarist is more willing to tell happened even further back in the day, and turns out to be even more revealing.

When Janis left Big Brother to go solo shortly after the band’s album Cheap Thrills became a hit, Sam went with her to form the Kozmic Blues Band. It was the spring after the winter following the summer of love, or somewhere in there, and the pair were driving down the Hollywood Freeway (the 101) to L.A. appear on the Tom Jones Show or some such thing.

Andrew recalls, “We’re in the car and she turns to me and says, ‘I’ll sell out! I will sell my soul! Where’s the devil? I wanna sell out! Just tell me where to sign!’ She was always very success oriented. It was a dramatic moment when she said that – she was driving the car.”

The rest, as they say, is history. It’s in all the books.

We can’t help of think of Amy Winehouse, who died recently under similar circumstances at a similar age.

“That’s a tricky age,” Andrew says. “I was tricky for me. I was doing a lot of drugs.”

Having obviously made it through the 27-year-old mid-youth crisis and all the subsequent age-related trials that followed – he figures it gets tense about once every seven years – Andrew turns 70 in December. He’s still going strong. Big Brother and the Holding Company now tours with hired singers. Edmonton’s show will feature a “No. 1, A-plus, incredible gorgeous” Puerto Rican singer named Sophia Ramos.

“If I had sex with her, I would have a myocardial infarction,” Andrew laughs. “I know what that is because my wife’s a nurse.”