As the Janis Joplin lore goes, the singer spent her final hours locked in a Hollywood hotel room alone, stood up by her on-again, off-again lover Peggy Caserta and 21-year-old fiancee Seth Morgan before being found dead of a heroin overdose at 27. Three years later, Caserta and ghostwriter Dan Knapp released a memoir titled Going Down with Janis, which tastefully proclaimed itself to be “A Raw and Scathing Portrait of Janis Joplin by Her Female Lover” on the book jacket. The book detailed Caserta’s late-‘60s experiences with Joplin in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The stories of the pair’s drug use led many to believe that Caserta’s influence on Joplin made her partially responsible for the singer’s death and now, 45 years later, Caserta has released a follow-up memoir to refute those accusations.
Caserta discussed the new memoir, titled I Ran Into Some Problems, with Vulture. In the interview, published Thursday, she calls the previous memoir “smut,” stating that she “sold out for drug money” and that the only merit to come from Going Down with Janis was its landmark depiction of Joplin’s same-sex romantic relationship. Caserta’s plans for the memoir to serve as a warning against drug use backfired when fans of the now-cult phenomenon book told her that the memoir actually made them want to try drugs.
Co-written with Maggie Falcon, I Ran Into Some Problems pushes back against the public perception that Caserta was partially responsible for Joplin’s death. She admits to shooting heroin with Joplin, but rejects the notion that she introduced the narcotic to the blues singer, stating, “I never saw a needle outside a doctor’s office until I met her.” Caserta goes so far as to deny that Joplin even died of a heroin overdose at all, instead stating that from her perspective outside the hotel room, it appeared the Joplin tripped, broke her nose and drowned in her own blood. “She tripped and fell, honey. I’m positive of it,” says Caserta.
Now 24 years sober, Caserta hopes the new memoir will help to clarify her relationship with Joplin and diffuse some of the pulpier narratives spurned by Going Down with Janis. Read Caserta’s interview with Vulture for yourself here. Both print and e-book versions of I Ran Into Some Trouble are available here. Hear a clip from the Paste vault of Joplin performing “Ball and Chain” circa 1969 below.