Watch singer Janis Ian, at sixteen, the day she says Bill Cosby blackballed her from TV: "probably a lesbian"

Here is a video of singer Janis Ian performing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967, at the age of 16. She's singing her controversial hit that she wrote when she was 14, "Society's Child" (peaked that year at #14 on Billboard's Hot 100), about an interracial romance.

In 2015, Ian told a very disturbing story on Facebook about the taping of this performance.

My song "Society's Child" was climbing the charts and creating a great deal of controversy. The Smothers Brothers took a huge gamble and had me on their hit television show. I was just sixteen years old when we taped it. I'd been on the road for months, doing press and one-nighters. My chaperone/tour manager, a family friend six or seven years older than me, was doing everything in her power to make sure I was protected and getting as much rest as possible.

At the taping, Ian was exhausted.

I'd been having nightmares for weeks, the result of the controversy surrounding "Society's Child" and the death threats I was receiving daily. I needed to sleep. So I fell asleep in my chaperone's lap. She was earth motherly, I was scared. It was good to rest.

We taped the show. I had a ball. (You can see it on Youtube, in fact. That's me, looking scared, in the green dress. My friend Buffy from East Orange, where I'd started high school, made it for me. I treasured it.) 

Apparently Bill Cosby attended the taping to meet Ian because he was curious about the singer. She was later told by her manager that Cosby happened to see her sleeping on her manager's lap, and was somehow offended.

A while later, my manager called me into her office. "What happened at the Smothers Brothers show?!" I had no idea what she was talking about, and said so. "Well, no one else on TV is willing to have you on. Not out there, anyway." Why? I wondered. And was told that Cosby, seeing me asleep in the chaperone's lap, had made it his business to "warn" other shows that I wasn't "suitable family entertainment", was probably a lesbian, and shouldn't be on television.

According to Ian's story, Cosby made that bizarre judgment and took that despicable action about a kid.

Again, a reminder. I was 16. I'd never slept with a man, I'd never slept with a woman. Hell, I barely been kissed, and that in the middle of the summer camp sports area, next to the ping pong table.

Not that this in any way justifies Cosby's abhorrent behavior, but ironically it did turn out that Ian now identifies as bisexual.

I may as well include this 1976 video of Ian at 25 singing her even bigger hit (peaking at #3 in 1975), the heartbreaking "At Seventeen." She performed this song on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live a year earlier, but video of that performance doesn't seem to be publicly available.

When the song first came out, Ian was reluctant to sing it live because it is so frank and deeply personal. For the first six months, she performed it with her eyes closed.

And since it's the holiday season, here is Dave Grohl's daughter Violet Grohl beautifully singing the song "At Seventeen" as part of his Hanukkah sessions last yer.