Texas Women's History Month: A Rock 'n' Roller Buried Alive in the Blues

Mar 12, 2017

During her time at the University of Texas at Austin in 1962, Janis Joplin performed at the Student Union and Threadgill’s.

One of the most famous rock 'n' rollers to come out of Texas, Janis Joplin grew up unpopular and an outcast during high school in Port Arthur. She often sneaked across the Sabine River with friends to drink and listen to zydeco, blues and jazz in the many bars that lined the Louisiana border.

 

Her singing talent — manifested earlier in life with performances in church and school choirs — evolved into an earthy, bluesy style. By the time Joplin left for the University of Texas at Austin in 1962, she was well on her way to becoming a full time singer, performing at the Student Union and Threadgill’s.

 

By 1963, she headed to California and quickly became an integral part of the San Francisco counterculture scene. Her performance at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival catapulted her to global fame. The next three years were a whirlwind of concerts, travel and wild living, including a serious alcohol and drug habit.

In October 1970, Joplin died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles. Her last album, Pearl, included the instrumental, unfinished song recorded the day before she died, titled Buried Alive in the Blues.

 

This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.