music pictures by Pat Blashill

Roky Erickson's story is a Texas tragedy. When he was a young man, he sang for the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, one of the first and most influential psychedelic rock bands in the USA. Roky was the wailing soul bursting out of the Elevators' biggest hit, "You're Gonna Miss Me."But a season or two of LSD use took a toll on him. Then a much more insidious Force--the Texas criminal justice system--nearly killed Roky Erickson. He was unjustly institutionalized and tortured, and when he finally emerged from a notorious mental hospital in the early 1970's, Roky was a brittle, haunted man.

Ironically, Roky's musical gifts seemed to have only sharpened during this long ordeal. He recorded several astonishing albums of razor blade rock with horror movie lyrics. In his hands, zombies, ghost and vampires were cyphers for all the really scary things in our lives: heartbreak, regret, loss and fury. If there is an upside to Roky's life of trouble, it is that he has been able to transform his suffering into songs which are strange and beautiful, and music which speaks to those of us who battle demons more mundane than Dracula, but no less monstrous. (PB)

"There was no better time for Roky Erickson's debut at Raul's than Mayday last Tuesday. In honor of Russia's national holiday, Erickson, backed by the Reversible Cords, opened an eight-song set with his anthem "Two Headed Dog" ("I've been workin' in the Kremlin with a two-headed dog" goes the refrain)…when the chemistry was right, as on "Creature with the Atom Brain," it was like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators jamming with Devo. Raul's regulars…honored Erickson as a returning hero. They yelled, "We love you, Roky" so much it could have been the summer of love all over again."
Joe Nick Patoski, Austin American-Statesman, May 5, 1979

“It’s not that I want to forget [the 13th Floor Elevators.] I have good memories of those days. But that really wasn’t my bag. I’m a horror lover and that’s what I’m into now… I’m trying to horrify them, demonize them and ‘possesionize’ them…All my life I’ve run into people who said, ’If you read too much of that horror, it’s going to hurt you.’ They were always trying to take it away from me. But people love monsters. They love those horror movies and I just figured it would be kind of neat to put it all into music.”
Roky Erickson, Ft. Worth Star Telegram, August 1980