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Elevator! Going Up!

Roky Erickson will always be a legend

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by Lee Paul, for outsideleft.com
There is no list of essential songs worth a shit published anywheres that You're Gonna Miss Me doesn't make it onto.

Roky Erickson has left the room then. Erickson was a pioneering psychedelic rock'n'roll singer, before there were many, if any at all. He was the founder alongside electric jug player Tommy Hall, and guitarist Stacy Sutherland, of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators, and known always and everywhere and forever for that opening primal scream of his, a mere a few bars into the the Elevators' You're Gonna Miss Me. There is no list of essential songs worth a shit published anywheres that You're Gonna Miss Me doesn't make it onto.

Of course, even I wasn't around for the first coming of the band he formed in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas way back when. Back when, being the 60s. Like a lot of kids, iterations of and variations on Lenny Kaye's Nuggets (Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968) compilation LP featuring bands like the Elevators and the Seeds got me and introduced me to a psychedelic proto punk music that never previously made it onto the turntable in my working class Irish house.

The 13th Floor Elevators You're Gonna Miss Me actually made the top 60 in the '66. And leaves me wondering in wonder how they did that even then. It's wild. It's so relentlessly wild. It's influence on generations of guitar bands, matched maybe only by the Velvets, I don't know, maybe a few others.

Roky Erickson's lead a tough, storied life. Drugs and psychological problems took their toll on him and the band. In 1969 Erickson reputedly was admitted to a psychiatric hospital rather than face a felony marijuana possession charge. Though no longer at the height of their fame, the Elevators were still something in Texas but this by all accounts was the final nail in their career coffin. There was no coming back. But generations of more underground inspired rocker bands, like Spacemen 3, Primal Scream, Jesus and Mary Chain and [add your myriad of names here] kept the spirit alive.


Photo: Ron Baker who has tons of great music photography and more on his flickr page

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Lee Paul

I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.

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