Biography of Rock Star Janis Joplin Part 1

About the famous rock n' roll star Janis Joplin, history and biography of the singer songwriter.


JANIS JOPLIN (1943-1970)

You could say the story of Janis Joplin begins and ends in Port Arthur, Tex.

Port Arthur is an oil refinery town in the flat, humid, southeastern corner of the Lone Star State. Like many other small American towns, it demands a certain conformity from its residents. During her childhood, Janis had no trouble staying within the limits. She got good grades in school and enjoyed playing with her younger brother and sister. She helped out at church and drew posters for the library.

But sometime during her high school days, in the quite 1950s, Janis began to clash with prevailing notions, and there was no southern belle delicacy about her to soften attitudes. As the chasm grew between Janis and the community, she began to cloak herself in yet more abrasive and alienating ways, dressing and speaking more and more outrageously. This gained her acceptance by a small "rebel" group who encouraged her to be even louder and cruder. But at the same time she was hurt by the students who mocked her. By her senior year they were calling her "pig" and even throwing things at her.

She seemed to fit in better at the University of Texas in 1962. There was a tiny folk music movement in Austin, and Janis sang in a trio called the Waller Creek Boys. (Just "one of the boys," that was Janis.) People who heard her then say she had already begun to lose her voice drinking and carousing.

She was still unhappy, though, and still unaccepted by the student body at large. Their ridicule reached a cruel peak when Janis was nominated ugliest man on campus. A friend named Chet Helms encouraged her to try San Francisco.

In San Francisco were the last remains of the beat culture, as well as artists, jazz and poetry readings. Janis began singing in North Beach coffeehouses. The audiences liked her voice, by then raw and powerful and full of the blues. And Janis liked speed (Methedrine), finding it a better escape than alcohol. By the time she went back to Port Arthur in 1965, she weighed 88 lb.

Back home, Janis began seeing a psychiatric social worker. Feeling she needed the most rigid restraints, Janis wore very conservative clothes, kept a precise calendar, and avoided parties. She was even planning to marry, but she had chosen a Methedrine addict from San Francisco and he never showed up. The counselor tried to tell her that she could survive without having to become like Port Arthur, but she didn't seem to know how. The town had taught her that to deviate from the norm was disaster, and she believed it.

You Are Here: Trivia-Library Home » Biography of Creative and Performing Artists » Biography of Rock Star Janis Joplin Part 1
« Biography of Rock Star Chuck Berry Part 2Biography of Rock Star Janis Joplin Part 2 »
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ - By printing, downloading, or using you agree to our full terms. Review the full terms at the following URL: /disclaimer.htm