Results for Roky Erickson

interviews

Keven McAlester

One of rock's most influential and interesting figures is former 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson. After performing with the psychedelic band in the '60s and as a solo artist in the '80s, the singer's mental and physical health took a severe decline. But in the past couple of years, Roky's sights have improved, and Jim and Greg took this opportunity to celebrate his legacy. During this you'll hear their discussion with Keven McAlester, the director of the film biography You're Gonna Miss Me. McAlester spoke to Jim and Greg after a special screening of the film at Chicago's Music Box Theatre.

Jim and Greg highlight two of their favorite Roky Erickson tracks from different points in his career. The first is a 13th Floor Elevators song called "Reverberation Doubt," which Jim explains is an example of how psychedelic the band was. The song was not only influenced by psychedelic drugs, but it conveys the experience of using them. Jim discusses the term“synesthesia,”which refers the drugs' ability to allow you to actually see musical notes, and“Reverberation Doubt”has a similar effect. As he states, it gives you the "sense that the entire world is vibrating."

The second is a solo track from a later period in Roky's career. "Red Temple Prayer (Two-Headed Dog)" was recorded after Roky came out of Rusk State Mental Hospital in Texas, and wasn't in very good shape. But, musically he was very productive, and became one of the American artists to really lay the groundwork for punk music. Roky's songwriting at this time was influenced greatly by horror movies, and the title of this song gives a sense of where his mental state was. Greg describes“Two-Headed Dog”as a brutal, but wonderfully hard-hitting song.

You'll also hear a montage of covers from the tribute album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye:

  • R.E.M., "I Walked with a Zombie"
  • ZZ Top, "Reverberation"
  • T-Bone Burnett, "Nothing in Return"
  • Butthole Surfers, "Earthquake"
  • Julian Cope, "I Have Always Been Here Before"
Go to episode 91
reviews
True Love Cast Out All Evil (with Okkervil River)True Love Cast Out All Evil available on iTunes

Roky Erickson True Love Cast Out All Evil

Psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson has an album out called True Love Cast Out All Evil. Since fronting the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson has been in heavy decline, dealing with mental illness and drug abuse. He was nursed back to health by his brother and, in part, the Austin community. So this record, which was produced by Will Scheff of Okkervill River, is a personal as well as a professional achievement. Greg describes this record as reflective rather than howling. But, it's beautiful to hear his voice, which is still intact. He gives it a Buy It. Jim wishes that Erickson had collaborated with someone like Billy Gibbons, who could‘ve brought out the acid rock side of the singer. He doesn’t recommend this if it's your first foray into Erickson's music, but gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 230
lists

Unrequited Love Songs

What would rock ‘n’ roll be if not for the thousands of songs about love and heartbreak? Jim and Greg explore this legacy for this week's Valentine's Day episode featuring the best Unrequited Love Songs:

Go to episode 272

The Best Songs of 2010 - Mixtapes

At the end of each year, Jim and Greg look back and pick out their favorite songs to make you a mixtape. Think of it as a soundtrack for 2010. They both play samples of the mix during the show, but you can stream both compilations in their entirety.

Go to episode 266
features

Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators

roky Roky Erickson was a psychedelic pioneer who kept bouncing back to music despite many tragic challenges throughout his life. With The 13th Floor Elevators he helped spread drug-assisted enlightenment in one of the least accepting places in America: 1960s Texas. After their single "You're Gonna Miss Me" became a national hit, The Elevators appeared on American Bandstand and amassed a significant following, largely on the strength of Erickson's vocals. Combining elements of Little Richard, James Brown and Buddy Holly, Greg says Erickson had a punk rock approach to music as early as 1965.

With a larger audience came closer scrutiny, especially from Texas law enforcement. Roky was busted for drug possession twice in the late 60s and plead insanity to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Over his four year stay in Rusk State Hospital, Erickson battled schizophrenia and underwent electroconvulsive therapy. By the mid-70s Erickson was out of the institution and returned with darker music exploring paranormal and horror movie themes.

After another run-in with the law (this time for mail theft), long-time Elevators fan turned music publicist, Bill Bentley, organized a fundraising tribute album: Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye. From that album's release in 1990 until his death last month, the music community of Austin, Texas (including Okkervil River, Butthole Surfers and ZZ Top) shared the duty of supporting Erickson with his family, helping him thrive as a musician until the end.

Go to episode 707
news

Music News

Jim and Greg begin the show with a discussion of Lollapalooza and other summer festivals. There's Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, but Chicago is shaping up to be the major destination for music fans this year. The Lollapalooza lineup is impressive, with a diverse mix of bands including Lolla vets The Flaming Lips and Red Hot Chili Peppers, indie favorites Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, and Chicago natives Wilco and Kanye West. Plus, the city will be home to two of the biggest independent music festivals: The Pitchfork Music Festival, featuring Destroyer, Art Brut, Spoon and post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma, and the Intonation Music Festival featuring The Streets, Bloc Party, Lupe Fiasco and a rare appearance by 13th Floor Elevators founder Roky Erickson.

Go to episode 21