In a new book, Peggy Caserta, a close friend of the late Janis Joplin, offers insight into her claims that the blues singer’s death was not actually caused by a drug overdose.
Joplin died on Oct. 4, 1970, her lifeless body found on the floor of a room in Hollywood’s Landmark Motor Hotel. Her death was officially ruled as an overdose, and over decades it has never been questioned. Several other drug users who used the same strain of heroin overdosed in the same week, too, which seemingly provided ironclad proof.
Joplin’s longtime friend, Caserta — who claims to have slept with the singer multiple times and used recreational drugs with her — said she arrived at the scene shortly after the police did.
Although she couldn’t get as close a look as she wanted, the detail she saw led her to believe her own theory on the icon’s tragic death, which she describes in detail in her new book, I Ran into Some Trouble:
“I saw her foot sticking out at the end of the bed. She was lying with cigarettes in one hand and change in the other. For years it bothered me. How could she have overdosed and then walked out to the lobby and walked back? I’ve overdosed, and you crumble on the floor like how they found Philip Seymour Hoffman.”
Caserta focuses specifically on Joplin’s “tiny hourglass heel.”
“I let it go for years [her death], but I always thought, ‘Something is wrong here,’” she said.
She postulates that Joplin tripped over the hotel’s thick shag carpet, fell onto the bedside table head-first and then broke her nose, which could have led to asphyxiation and eventual death as the blood backed up in her throat.
Caserta’s memoir was written to address the inaccuracies of her 1973 book, Going Down With Janis, an uncensored profile of their lives together. It outlined the drugs, the sex and the dirt, mainly about Joplin.
Looking back, Caserta says she now regrets being a co-writer on the book, because the result was mostly slander of her alleged lover.
Caserta asserts that she has confidence in her theory about Joplin’s death.
“What matters is the truth, and the truth is that she didn’t overdose,” she said. “I will go to my grave believing that. God knows I’ve [overdosed] several times.”
Joplin joined the so-called “27 Club” when she died — a list of legendary musicians who passed away at the age of 27. After her death, her fourth album, Pearl, was released and her original song, Mercedes-Benz, shot to the top of the Billboard charts.
On Thursday, it will be the 48th anniversary of her death.