Museum Of The Gulf Coast's Musical Treasure Trove

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Photos by Craig Hlavaty
Janis Joplin's car
Rocks Off visited the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur this past Friday while on the the way to Louisiana for a quick vacation. The downstairs area is full of artifacts pertaining to the founding of the land around Port A, like military and animal exhibits.

The best part for us obviously was the original uniform that area native G.W. Bailey wore while playing Captain Harris in the cinematic powerhouse cop thriller, 1984's Police Academy. We squealed when we saw it. It was like seeing the Declaration of Independence or something.

Upstairs, the museum houses a treasure trove of memorabilia related to a host of musicians from around the upper Texas coast, including a corner dedicated to Port Arthur's crown jewel Janis Joplin. We saw one of her psychedelic cars, childhood drawings, high school yearbooks, and albums and gold records from her musical career.

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L-R: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson
The Janis stuff was way cool, but it was the displays dedicated to George Jones, Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Byrd, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson that thrilled us the most. Included in the Bopper's display was his Zippo, comb and a set of dice recovered from the February 1959 plane crash that claimed the lives of Richardson, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

Plenty of other artists were scattered about the huge exhibit, like B.J. Thomas, Percy Sledge, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Archie Bell, Lee Hazlewood and Tony Joe White. It was pretty much like walking around one of the basement inside this blog's head.

The upstairs also had a free jukebox loaded with Texas artists and bands, to which we loaded up plenty of Jones and ZZ Top in before we left and went on about our travels.

Which makes us wonder, why doesn't the Houston area also have a music museum? Something to think about.


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