Do I really need to write about a legend such as Roky Erickson?! The answer is NO!, but due to the amazing job Light In The Attic has done with the three Roky reissues, I’ll give a reminder.
This Texas madman stuck his flag in the Rock ‘N’ Roll world as the throat-shredding lead vocalist of the 13th Floor Elevators and made it to R’N’R-hating Dick Clark’s (emphasis on Dick) American Bandstand with the legendary Garage Punk cut, “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” After a few records with the Elevators and some time in San Francisco, Roky ran into a bit of trouble with the law back in Texas.
Texas law was not a fan of the Elevators Rock ‘N’ Roll lifestyle (much like Detroit law and The MC5). In 1969, Roky was caught with a single joint and was facing 10 years in prison. Being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic a year earlier and receiving involuntary electroshock therapy, Roky pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. He was first sentenced to Austin State Hospital, but after a few attempts to escape he was sentenced to Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. There he received more electroshock therapy and was kept until the early ’70s.
In ‘74 Roky put a band together and, with the production of Doug Sahm, released the the “Two Headed Dog” single. This was the beginning of Roky leaving the Psychedelic rock scene behind for a more hard ‘n’ heavy Rock ‘n’ Roll sound. He also started to write lyrics with demon, aliens and science fiction themes.
Light In The Attic has reissued the three albums following this era, The Evil One, Don’t Slander Me and Gremlins Have Pictures. Each one is done to the finest detail with the love and care that the label usually puts into the music they love.
Released on both CD and vinyl, the reissues are available now at Streetlight Records. Here is a taste of each one.
“I would just forget. I would say, ‘Roky, you’re in here forever, you might as well not remember any kind of success you’ve had or anything. You’re a talented rock and roll singer? Forget it!…Just forget it, man, because you don’t have a chance.’” -Roky Erickson
From the Liner Notes:
“Ten years ago, Roky Erickson’s legacy as one of rock and roll’s most tragic figures had already been written. Once regarded as a spectacularly gifted singer and one of psychedelic music’s founding fathers, Erickson had watched his career fall apart while locked in a maximum security prison for the criminally insane. He had eventually retreated to a housing project in South Austin where he kept multiple TVs and radios on at full volume to drown out the voices in his head. No one had heard from him in over a decade. His friends and fans had given up hope. They assumed he would simply fade away.
Instead, Roky has shocked everyone with a recovery that’s nothing short of miraculous. At the age of 63, he has emerged from debilitating mental illness and self-imposed isolation. He has given up drugs and alcohol, reconnected with his son and first wife, bought his first house and made his first new album in over a decade.
True Love Cast Out All Evil introduces thirteen songs written at various points in Roky’s life but largely abandoned due to the violent twists and turns that life took. In these songs, Roky narrates his own incredible story in his own unique voice. It’s a story of agonizing pain and irretrievable loss, but it’s also a story of the optimism and hope that has allowed him to overcome. And it’s all true.” -Will Sheff (Okkervil River/Producer)
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