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Janis Ian

Janis Ian was born Janis Eddy Fink. She was only 15 when she scored a hit record in 1967 with her depressing interracial love song Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking).

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The song entered the US Top 40 on 17 June 1967 making #14 but was banned by many radio stations as subversive (since the lyrics dealt with an interracial relationship forbidden by the white girl’s mother and frowned upon by her peers).

DJ s who broadcast the song ran the risk of being fired or attacked by outraged members of the public: indeed, one Louisiana DJ was allegedly murdered after playing it on air.

The song failed to provoke the same furore in Britain, where it was given a powerful Vanilla Fudge-style hard rock treatment by Spooky Tooth.

Not wishing to rest on her teenage laurels Janis outdid herself in a big way, breaking #3 in the US in 1975 with At Seventeen, a self-loathing lounge song that tempted a whole generation of teenage girls to shove their heads into a trash compactor . . .

janisian_633At Seventeen relates how, at the age of 17, Ms Ian made the startling discovery that physically attractive people are more popular than unattractive people (at 18 she found out that gravity makes things fall).

It remains one of the few – if not only – anthems for gawky adolescent girls who spend evenings alone gazing at the phone hoping some boy will call them.

Amazingly, the song failed to chart in the UK, despite a fair amount of radio exposure.

By the time she really was 17, Janis Ian was appearing on the Tonight Show, being written up in Time magazine and shopping for clothes with Janis Joplin.