This is the best biography of Janis Joplin we've had to date. David Dalton's Janis (KR, 1972) was a creditable if somewhat starstruck effort while Peggy Caserta's Going Down With Janis (KR, p. 350) fell into the category of sexploitation trash. Ms. Friedman first befriended Janis when she was working in the office of her manager, rock impresario Albert Grossman. At the time Janis was at the peak of her volcanic powers -- an escapee from the ""mindless monochrome"" of Port Arthur, Texas, she had become rock n' rolls' Aphrodite with beads, a good-time Mama who flaunted her bottle of Southern Comfort and her legendary sexual exploits to anyone within earshot. Friedman at once detected a toughness that was ""just about the phoniest front I believe I've ever seen"" and the biography uncovers layer by layer the voracious craving to be loved, the shattering insecurities beneath the honky-tonk exterior, the professional ambition she hid and denied, the ""counter-phobic"" posturing towards men and the ""extreme aggression against her person"" which pushed her to heroin, sleazy bars and ""pretty young men"" in a depressing spiral which ended with her death in a California motel. Withal the author's admiration and deep affection for Janis is not diminished by the pathetic realities she witnessed and tried so hard to curb. Janis' rambunctious gusto for life, her resiliency, her humor and kindness flash through even as she willfully acted out her life to fit the Pearl of ""audience fantasy."" Her numberless fans ought to devour every word though we still wonder whether the complex, bewildering truth of her life can compete with the media-projected myths still going strong.