Janis Lyn Joplin Historical Marker
A native of Port Arthur, famed blues and rock and roll singer Janis Joplin lived here with her family. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1960 and attended Port Arthur College and Lamar State College of Technology (Lamar University) in Beaumont. A liberal and outspoken free spirit, Janis rebelled against the conservatism of her hometown, and in 1962 she moved to Austin to study art at the University of Texas. She connected to the burgeoning Austin music scene and began singing in clubs around town, most notably at Threadgill’s, a bar operated by Texas country singer and yodeler, Kenneth Threadgill. With her raw and raspy singing style exhibiting the blues, jazz, country, Cajun, gospel and soul music influences of East Texas and Louisiana, she was a popular local performer.
Searching for wider acceptance, Joplin moved to San Francisco in 1963 and quickly became part of the growing folk music and counter-culture movement of the late 1960s. Her performances at the 1967 international pop and jazz festivals in Monterey brought her widespread recognition. Her first album, Cheap Thrills, with the band Big Brother and the Holding Company, was a wild success even as her personal life became marred with alcohol and drug abuse. Later recording with the Kosmic Blues Band and the Full-Tilt Boogie Band, she was an international sensation by the end of the decade.
In August 1970, at the height of her fame, Joplin returned to Port ARthur for her ten-year high school reunion. Just two months later, she died of an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol; her ashes were spread along the coast of northern California. Her final album, Pearl, released after her death, earned a Gold Record.
Historical Marker Erected: 2007
Sponsored by: Port Arthur Historical Society, Jeff Hayes, Sam Monroe, Yvonne Sutherlin, T.J. Class of 1960, Carlita Zummo