Janis Joplin Really Wanted to “Ball” Clive Davis, Says Clive Davis


This week’s release of Clive Davis’ memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, has brought news of the record mogul’s tense relationship with Kelly Clarkson and his bisexuality. But we were particularly intrigued by what he wrote about his relationship with Janis Joplin — namely, that the ill-fated singer really, really wanted to sleep with him.

Davis first saw Joplin perform with her band Big Brother and the Holding Company at Monterey Pop in 1967, and fought to get them on his label. But when he wanted to meet Joplin in person, Albert Grossman, Big Brother’s manager, revealed that she was even more excited than Davis about their potential meeting: “She’s talked about meeting you, and she thinks it only fitting and proper that she ball you to cement the deal,” Grossman supposedly said. Davis writes that the manager also clarified that the encounter wouldn’t be just about sex; it “would be her way of showing this is a more meaningful relationship – not in lieu of signing, but in addition, a way to make the signing different from what it normally would be in the business world.”

As Davis and Joplin grew closer, their relationship sometimes took unusual turns, with the singer revealing her insecurities to him. For instance, when he signed Laura Nyro, who “became something of a star herself a little bit later, things got worse. ‘I can see I’m not the number-one female in your eyes anymore,’ Janis told [Davis] one day on the phone. ‘You’re turned on to Laura now.'” Davis also reports that sometimes he “would be speaking with her at a public event, when she’d spot a guy across the room and take off. ‘Wow, I’d like to fuck him!’ would be her parting line.”

Joplin, who “was often capable of rude and coarse behavior,” also seemed to invite Davis into a different part of life, one that was softer than what the public was often allowed to see. In a moment during which Davis declares she was “perfect Janis,” she excitedly invited him to a party in Madison Square Garden, “telling [him he] would be knocked out by the outfit she planned to wear. [He] had never seen this feminine side of her.”