You're Gonna Miss Me
June 1, 2019 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Roky Erickson, Lead singer and guitarist for legendary psych band The 13th Floor Elevator has died. Roky Erickson was a difficult personality in that he had a peerless talent for the music he created, and was known for excesses in chemical intake. This second however, may have more to do with mental illness, than actual excess. Much like contemporary Syd Barrett, Roky lead a tumultuous life. I'm going to leave the links below the fold. Please enjoy the music and videos. posted by evilDoug (39 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

posted by Rash at 10:18 AM on June 1

"Rollercoaster" and "Slip Inside This House" are some of the greatest of the 1st generation "turn on" psych songs and, like all of the Elevators' best stuff, co-written by Erickson. I was often lukewarm on the later, horror-oriented records, but occasionally that voice would still come out and make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.

RIP + thanks, Roky - I'm still always trying to keep this in mind:

There is no season when you are grown
You are always risen from the seeds you've sown
There is no reason to rise alone
Other stories given have sages of their own.

posted by ryanshepard at 10:19 AM on June 1 [6 favorites]



I really do miss him.

I first discovered The 13th Floor Elevators because of the High Fidelity soundtrack, and that movie and that song are definitely part of my personal mythology. It still makes the hair stand up on my arms to hear it every time. Heh. Now I'm thinking of the time I explained to my ex that it was a "fuck-you song" and he was like "good to know that's actually what that meant" and then got super upset 'cause I'd included it on a mix to him once, and that pretty much captures the dynamic of what that relationship was like. So many memories associated with these songs. RIP!
posted by limeonaire at 10:32 AM on June 1 [3 favorites]

Gah! One of the all time best, up there with Buddy Holly, Daniel Johnson and Roy Orbison. A major inspiration to my own personal music making history. Ugh.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:41 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

I'll think of demons for you Roky.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:58 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

posted by nightrecordings at 11:00 AM on June 1

posted by mcdoublewide at 11:15 AM on June 1

I'm a huge Okkervil River fan and their work with Roky was how I was really introduced to him and his music. This is a very lovely tribute written by Will Sheff about how their collaboration came about and just talking about Roky and his story and legacy.
posted by primalux at 11:57 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

"I promised to see you die, and I will."
posted by Palindromedary at 12:02 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]

I'm partial to 'Two Headed Dog', for something rock-y, and 'I Have Always Been Here Before', for something more ballad-y.

From the very-1990 tribute album 'Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye,' I like the R.E.M. version of 'I Walked with a Zombie' and Bongwater's cover of 'You Don't Love Me Yet.'
posted by box at 12:28 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]

my proper intro to Mr. Erickson came via a pivotal scene from the best damned zombie movie of them all ...


full version

rest in wild and virulent peace, you crazy diamond
posted by philip-random at 2:06 PM on June 1 [5 favorites]

posted by ocular shenanigans at 2:27 PM on June 1

Seven stars receive your visit
Seven seals remain divine
Seven churches filled with spirit
Treasure from the angels' mine
Slip inside this house as you pass by
(from "Slip Inside This House")

For those looking for a starting point to explore Erickson's music with the 13th Floor Elevators their eponymously-titled debut album is a fine choice and contains "You're Gonna Miss Me", which is probably their most familiar tune.

But I would argue their second album, "Easter Everywhere", is their masterpiece. If you're up for exploring both of them I would start with the debut and move on to Easter Everywhere but if you will only do one it's hard to make a choice. (Fortunately, though, you can get both discs *plus* their third album "Bull of the Woods" AND a live disc for around $15 if you order this set.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:36 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


I found Roky maybe 15 years ago, maybe more, through a shadowy video streaming site that used some of his songs as interstitial music between episodes of MST3k. Night of the Vampire fucking rules. Years later I was working with a guy who roadied & teched for a bunch of big metal bands when they toured Europe and we bonded over a mutual appreciation. He was more of a Two-Headed Dog guy, and he's the one who filled me in in Roky's whole backstory.

Poor guy. Godspeed and peace, Roky Erickson.
posted by penduluum at 3:58 PM on June 1

for a sometimes troubled mind at peace, now expanded forever to the universe.

If anyone can find that recent live video of him performing (HSBG, maybe?) he looked so peaceful when he was performing. It's beatific.

*plus* their third album "Bull of the Woods"

Everyone pretty much discards BotW, but for me it's the true gem. Yes, it was the first 13FE album I listened to, but man!, you have to love Dear Dr Doom: all burbly lyrics about who knows what AND those threadbare horns that sound like they gave up years before.
And the always-presence
You have found within you
Is the same in heaven
Fully made aware

The album closer cannot be beaten by any other: May The Circle Remain Unbroken. None of that happy-hicks-hopped-up-on-diet-pills “By-and-by, Lord, by and by” pap for RoKy, no sirree. Through cloying layers of tape reverb and germanium fuzz, sounding like he's been smoking crystallized cough syrup for a week before, RoKy intones only the phrase May The Circle Remain Unbroken over and over, along with a thudding leaden bell that's more like a sealing into eternity than a promise of eternal life.

This album found me when I was a very earnest fundamentalist teen. Had it not been for Prophet Erickson, I'm sure I'd still be proselytizing in polyester to this day.
posted by scruss at 4:19 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]

All of Austin is kind of in shock.

I only met him once - just long enough to shake his hand & thank him for his music, but he & the Elevators were a huge influence on me, not just musically, but spiritually, since my adolescence. A friend of my parent's in early 70's Houston had all the Elevators albums when I was a little kid, so I was aware of them since I was probably 8 or so.

When I first moved to Austin from San Francisco in 78, Ronnie Johnson (later of James McMurty's band) handed me a cassette tape of the then-out-of-print first Elevators album & said “Welcome to Texas.” I had a little mono cassette player, & I would put that tape on that player & put it under my pillow & listen as I fell asleep every night for months, until I knew every word. He made a huge impression on me & a year or two later when I finally got my hands on my own copy of Easter Everywhere, I think I began to grow a third eye. There will never be another like him & this news saddens me deeply, but we still have his music & for that I will always be grateful.

I Spent 3 years or so doing Elevators songs in a band called the Tommy Hall Schedule & had a few out-of-body experiences playing their music on stage. here’s a recording I posted to Mefi Music about 6 years ago of us doing the Elevators song Kingdom Of Heaven, back in 2013. (Written by Powell St.John)

There will never be another one & I’ll forever have an empty space in my heart where he lived.

posted by Devils Rancher at 6:25 PM on June 1 [7 favorites]

posted by mwhybark at 7:02 PM on June 1

I was introduced to the Elevators, the myth of Roky, and Robitussin by my dear departed pal Steve Millen, a subcultural icon of my scene of origin known for his never-ending self-selected curation of obscure psych and garage music he titled the and for his beloved satirical zine Tussin Up (self link, please note).

Steve gave me a vinyl copy of the first album while it was still out of print as well as tape dubs of all the records. I concur with Nerd of the North that Easter Everywhere is the pinnacle of the band’s work.

I wish that Steve had lived to see Roky begin creating again.
posted by mwhybark at 7:12 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]

Slip Inside This House was the roots of my explorations of gnosticism & I've spent a lot of time reading things like the Gospels of St Thomas, & a lot a of history of biblical apocrypha, trying to get to the bottom of when the hell Tommy Hall was on about. It's been an interesting literary & spiritual journey, ignited mostly by spark of that song.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:17 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]

So many favorites! I am especially partial to I Think of Demons and The Interpreter. And Starry Eyes was like the spirit of Buddy Holly calling down from heaven. I an just going to assume he has already been reincarnated and there is a baby somewhere letting out a fiery and piercing cry. He has always been here before.
posted by snofoam at 7:31 PM on June 1

Chaos all around me
With it's finger clinging
But I can hear you singing
In the corners of my brain

posted by lefty lucky cat at 7:43 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]

“he titled the”

was intended and attempted to be posted as “he titled the Enpsychedelipedia”.
posted by mwhybark at 10:56 PM on June 1

Vaya con queso Roky.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:07 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]

posted by Lyme Drop at 11:12 PM on June 1

For those who might be unfamiliar.

It's a sad one but, preserved at Wayback, here's Will Sheff's acount of Roki's story.
posted by Twang at 11:44 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]

I came on here last night to write this post with the same title but I just couldn't pull it together so I'm very happy someone did. What a treasure.

For your (hopeful) enjoyment, a tribute by Chelsea Wolfe:
posted by deadbilly at 5:52 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Those Will Sheff liner notes are the most organized & detailed account of Roky’s career that I’ve read. Thanks for digging that up.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:15 AM on June 2

This was always my favorite Roky song. Thank you for the ghosts, Roky.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:43 AM on June 2

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:44 AM on June 2

posted by Gelatin at 5:37 AM on June 3

posted by desuetude at 10:42 AM on June 3

Oh no. Dammit.

I got to see him once at Black Cat - one of my favorite shows in the venue.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:48 AM on June 3

I got to see him in April '10, at the Paramount in Austin. Can't find a setlist, but as I remember it sounded pretty similar to this, from LA a month later. What to say, it was great seeing him. Okkervil River is not my ideal guts-on-the-floor blooz band, but what the heck, it was a lovely show. Damn it.

posted by hap_hazard at 12:33 PM on June 3

Roky’s suggestion for a replacement bassist – his roommate Townes Van Zandt – was turned down summarily by Tommy Hall


mind. blown.
posted by mwhybark at 3:01 PM on June 3

This version of the American Bandstand performance is not only a high quality upload from one of Roky's fan clubs, but it has this great exchange with Dick Clark at the end:

Dick Clark: Which one of you is the head man of the group, gentlemen?

Tommy Hall: Well, we're all heads.

posted by jonp72 at 7:08 PM on June 3

Thomas Pynchon wears a Roky Erickson shirt on ‘The John Larroquette Show’ (sort of)

For those that follow chavenet's link, I found the since-uploaded episode of TJLS. Here's the clip with ~a minute of lead-up.
Many minutes died to bring you this information.
posted by mean square error at 6:51 AM on June 7

Damn, I watched to see if it was one I printed, but he's only mentioned -- no on-screen appearance. When Sumner was Roky's guardian & he was getting his affairs in order, he came by my old shop with some Roky Erickson art & we printed several batches of these & a similar design on white.

When I left the Joe Jackson show last Friday night, a guy got into the elevator wearing one - it's weird being reunited with shirts like that. He'd had it a while & it was one of his faves. We commiserated about Roky's untimely death & I complimented his taste in wearables.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:24 AM on June 8

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