The 13th Floor Elevators – as Dave Barry would say, this would be a great name for a rock band. It is, and it was…A Texan by the name of Roger Kynard Erickson (better known as “Roky,” pronounced “Rocky”) started a band by that name in 1965. He was known as a pioneer of the psychedelic rock genre. I understand that Janis Joplin very nearly joined this band (and what a different path her career would have taken then, eh?), but was convinced by a friend to move to San Francisco to find fame and fortune there instead. Anyway, the Elevators had one charting hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” in 1966. A stinging post-romantic breakup song, the single remains probably Erickson's best-known work, characterized by his primal vocal wailing and feral harmonica work. The band put out four albums and fizzled by 1968, when Erickson started speaking nonsense while playing a gig. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and sent to a Houston psychiatric hospital, where he involuntarily received electroconvulsive therapy. Well, that was it; song over for Roky, at least at that time. While he has continued to attempt to play music and write songs since that time, he has suffered from mental illness all of his life (in 1982, Erickson asserted that a Martian had inhabited his body) and only recently has been able to wean himself off his medication, play at gigs again, obtain a driver's license, own a car, and vote.
Why bring all this up? Well, I saw Roky on Austin City Limits a couple of Saturdays ago, and here’s this heavyset, gray-haired apparition playing with members of two of his previous bands and Billy Gibbons, no less, who apparently has always been a big fan. Roky, who turned 60 last July, was in fine form, belting out his hits in the afore-mentioned primal vocal wail. Discovering this dude started an investigation into his life, and the eventual discovery of an album called “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” which is the soundtrack from a 2005 documentary about his life by director Keven McAlester. It’s a good overview of the man and his music, and I highly recommend it.
It just goes to show you the lengths that some folks will go to overcome adversity, and that you’re never too old to rock and roll! Check out this video from Roky’s career, thanks to www.wikipedia.com for the info, and keep on rockin!