Roky Erickson

From Academic Kids

Roky Erickson, born Roger Kynard Erickson in 1947, is an American musician from Texas and a founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators.

Erickson was the chief songwriter along with Tommy Hall for the 13th Floor Elevators, which was composed mostly of fellow Texans. Janis Joplin considered joining the Elevators, but Family Dog's Chet Helms persuaded her to go to San Francisco, California instead. In 1966, the band released The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, which had the band's only charting single, "You're Gonna Miss Me". Reportedly, the album title marks the first instance in which the word psychedelic was used to describe music. ZZTop's Billy Gibbons was inspired by the Elevators, the earlier incarnation The Moving Sidewalks hit "99th floor" was a tribute of sorts.

In 1967, the band followed up with Easter Everywhere, perhaps the band's most successful effort, featuring the epic track "Slip Inside This House", and a beautifully done cover of Bob Dylan's "Baby Blue".

In 1969, Erickson was arrested for possession of six marijuana joints in Austin, Texas. Rather than serve a short prison term, Erickson pled insanity, which proved to be a mistake. He was sent to the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane , where he was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy and Thorazine treatments and held until 1972.

When released from the state hospital, Erickson's mental outlook had changed. In 1974, Erickson formed a new band which he called Bleib Alien, Bleib being an anagram for Bible. His new band exchanged the psychedelic sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators for a more heavy metal sound that featured lyrics on old horror film and science fiction themes. "Two Headed Dog" (produced by The Sir Douglas Quintet's Doug Sahm was released as a single.

The new band renamed itself Roky Erickson and the Aliens. In 1979, Erickson recorded some of his new material with Stu Cook, formerly of Creedence Clearwater Revival. In 1981, Roky and the Aliens released The Evil One, an album of his material on horror movie themes.

Several live albums of his older material have been released since then, and in 1990 Warner Bros released a tribute album, Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye produced by WB executive Bill Bentley. It featured versions of Erickson's songs performed by The Jesus And Mary Chain, R.E.M., ZZ Top, Julian Cope, Bongwater, John Wesley Harding and Doug Sahm and Primal Scream. According to the liner notes, the title of the album came from a remark Erickson made to a friend who asked him to define psychedelic music, to which Roky reportedly replied "It's where the pyramid meets the eye, man!" (the quote is also a reference to the famous design on the U.S. 1 dollar note).

In 1995 Erickson released All That May Do My Rhyme. He is set to play the Austin City Limits festival in 2005 with The Explosives.

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