Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008

The Roky Erickson Story

By David Luhrssen
Google+ Pinterest Print

The documentary Youíre Gonna Miss Me (available on DVD) doesnít begin on stage but in a courthouse where Roky Ericksonís relatives are battling for control of his life. The latest episode of a troubled, decades long family history finds one of the songwriter-singerís brothers suing to replace his mother as Rokyís guardian. By then a childlike figure with the build of an oversize teddy bear, Roky seems content to go anyplace where heís allowed to watch his cartoons.

As frontman for Austinís 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson became a legendary figure among record collectors and fans of Ď60s garage rock. The live Elevators footage collected in Youíre Gonna Miss Me shows Erickson as a handsome, confident young man leading a band rooted in the hard end of the British Invasion through folk rock and into the fringes of psychedelia. Alas, he passed beyond the fringe after a reported 300 acid trips. Erickson never entirely returned. Maybe he didnít want to. The poor treatment he received in a mental hospital, where he was sentenced for marijuana possession and diagnosed as schizophrenic, may have turned him away from society. One friend interviewed for the film said that Erickson turned crazy in order to escape the insanity of his family.

Erickson enjoyed a remarkable creative rebound in the late 1970s through the mid-Ď80s that should make most of the Ď60s better know rock stars envious. During those years he produced dark if sometimes demonic rock that was as compelling in its way as his recordings with the Elevators. Sadly, Youíre Gonna Miss Me canít help but document the ways in which his art was often eclipsed by the tragedy of his life.

Log in to use your Facebook account with
Express Milwaukee

Login With Facebook Account