Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Artists I Get: Roky Erickson

Roky Erickson is the godfather of psychedelic rock. He was the lead singer of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators and has had an interesting career as a solo artist. Erickson has battled mental illness for decades, and over the past eight years he has been able to control the demons, which has led to a re-birth of sorts.

Erickson's lyrics are music are viewed as too weird by some, but I totally get Roky Erickson.

If you need a gateway into the Erickson universe then I suggest the 1966 classic 'You're Gonna Miss Me' from the 13th Floor Elevators. 'You're Gonna Miss Me' is a fun garage rock song, and I love the howls from Roky. That's some cool pre-punk music right there, kids.

Things were going well for the 13th Floor Elevators and then everything fell apart due to heavy drug use. Erickson was later diagnosed as a schizophrenic and spent time in a few mental hospitals where he was subjected to harsh treatments. After being released, his career during the 1970s was uneven, but he did produce some incredible songs. 'Bermuda' is a brilliant hard rocker that was released circa 1977, and is one of Roky's best songs.

The clip below features an interview of Erickson circa 1980, and you can hear in the interview that he is not in full control of his mental state. The clip also contains a great acoustic version of 'Creature With The Atom Brain'.

Fortunately, Roky was able to get his life together with the help of his brother. He has received the proper medical care, has gone on tour, and has worked with artists like Okkervil River.I dig the music of Erickson because it is raw and full of power and emotion. Few artists can dig into the world of B-movie creatures or inner demons, but you can't go wrong with Roky.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

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