Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A post about a music icon that I like, neener, neener, phbbbt!

Honestly, "You're gonna miss me" by The 13th Floor Elevators has got to be one of the most spine tingling rock 'n' roll songs ever. I'm thinking that it is a toss up between this song and Them's "Gloria". Them had Van Morrison and The 13th Floor Elevators had Roky Erickson.

Now some of you may recognize this song only from the Dell computer commercials and may ask yourselves, "Who in the hell is Roky Erickson and why should I care?" Personally, I could give a shit if you don't. All I know is that I am heavily influenced by his music. His music is definitely not for everyone and his lyrics will disturb you but also can touch your heart.

I did a post about Roky on my 120dBs blog here. That will cover most of the territory that you need to know about it. One thing that I failed to mention in that post was that Roky was first placed into an mental institution in the late '60s to avoid prison time for marijuana possession. The idea was that pleading insanity would be the best thing to do. While in the institution Roky was subjected to horrific and inhumane treatments including the infamous shock therapy. Let's just say that the residual acid in his brain and being a bit outer limits from the start did not a good combo make with all of this treatment. It was in this institution that he formed his first post-Elevators band, which included a man that killed his whole family. Needless to say, this wasn't a band that went anywhere, but when Roky got out in the mid-'70s he started writing and recording music with new bands, such as The Aliens and The Explosives. Here is a live performance from the late-'70s Roky era, "A cold night for alligators", about mutated alligator men who roam the swamps for blood.

Getting on into the next decade, Roky alternated from fascination with the Prince of Darkness and believing himself to be an alien. This performance of the opening theme from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" gives you an idea of the creative madness that he was going through in this period.

Unfortunately, he eventually succumbed to drugs and schizophrenia, which nearly caused him to be lost forever. He resembled a homeless man and was in no shape to take care of himself, let alone perform. One would think that he would become just another acid casualty or cracked genius, like Peter Green of the original Fleetwood Mac or Syd Barrett of the original Pink Floyd. With family members trying to keep him out of absolute destitution of mind and money, it certainly was an unlikely scenario that he would make a comeback. Yet, he did.

Starting in the early '90s, Roky would trickle in and out of the music scene, making a recording here, a performance there, but never leaving his home of Austin, Texas, or the occasional trip to California. His early comeback performances were painful. He seemed to be like a zoo animal for hipsters to throw popcorn at. Certainly, exploitation was going on because he wasn't making hardly any money from his recordings past and present. Now he is sixty and touring with his band The Explosives. He looks great, he looks healthy in body and mind, but most of all, he performs like a motha. It blows my mind that he got his shit together. He was granted amnesty from his younger brother and now is able to do more than just take care of himself.

Here is a clip from one of his performances from his recent tour and on my You Tube sidebar dealy I have the trailer for the film biography of his life that is coming out soon to a local indie house movie shack near you.

I hope you all take the time to humor me and go through all of this stuff. You don't have to like it, just get a feel for this guy and give a listen to the story.


goldennib said...

Very powerful. The words are odd sometimes but the music is always incredible. I'll watch that movie when it comes out.

Scary Monster said...

Funny and strange that we both be postin about the kind of music that stirs us deepest. Will check out all the sites in the near future. Kinda wrapped up in anutha zone at the moment.


"K" Fingerett said...

To my Dear Mr. Grunt Man,

It has been WAY to long and now I miss you, your words and your images. I've missed out on sooo much (again) and now I feel bad. I hope everything is alright on your end...

Things are okay over here- I just got back from New York again and I took a bunch of fun pictures which I plan on sharing ^_^

Well I dont want to take up too much space here so I'll wrap things up here...

::hugs:: :)


The Grunt said...

Nessa~ Right on. You are a trooper for going through it all.

SM~ I thought you were always in another zone, man. That's cool.

Dangerous K~ It's so good to see you back! I always wonder how you are doing. Can't wait to see the pics.

Logophile said...

I've missed ya, baby
That is an amazing story, and he had an incredible family. Endings like that are pretty rare, very cool he managed to do it.

Karyn said...

Gloria by Them was fantastic - one of my favourites. Gloria performed by Van & John Lee Hooker knocks me on my ass, it's so damn good.

Sun Follower said...

His story would make a great screenplay... I see Johnny Depp.