May 31, 2019: Roky Erickson, Texas Rock Legend, Dies

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As the lead vocalist and songwriter of the consummate psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators in the ’60s, and for the next five decades as a solo artist, Roky Erickson symbolized the vibrant Texas rock scene. Erickson died May 31, 2019, in Austin at age 71. His death was confirmed by his brother Mikel. No cause of death was revealed.

A post on Erickson’s Facebook page read, “Roky Erickson, an heroic icon of modern rock & roll and one of the best friends the music ever had, died in Austin, Texas today. Born there on July 15, 1947, Erickson had a visionary zeal rarely seen in 1965 when he co-founded the 13th Floor Elevators. The band’s original songs, many written with lyricist Tommy Hall, coupled with Erickson’s super-charged vocals and guitar sparked the psychedelic music revolution in the mid-1960s, and led to a new role of what rock could be. Erickson never wavered from that path, and while he faced incredible challenges at different points in his life, his courage always led him on to new musical adventures, one he continued without compromise his entire life. The family asks for privacy while they deal with the loss of a son, brother, husband and father.”

Among those paying tribute to Erickson in social media posts was ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, who wrote, “Roky Erickson has moved on. Roky came to mean many things to many admirers and will continue to resonate with a legacy of remarkable style, talent, and poetic and artistic tales from beyond. As a long standing friend and follower of Roky’s amazing performing abilities and aa a guitarist and singer, I can only relate the far reaching impact he and his mates in The Thirteenth Floor Elevators brought to the fore with their eerily magnetic psychedelic sounds. It’s almost unfathomable to contemplate a world without Roky Erickson. He created his own musical galaxy and early on was an true inspiration. Even now, Roky is a source of creative energy of the first order. It’s really a circumstance where he continues to provide the requisite ‘Reverberation.’ Something he predicted when he sang ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’…We certainly do know now that he’s at one with the universe.”

Related: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, the group’s debut, was one of the highlights of 1966

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Andrea
    #1 Andrea 1 June, 2019, 02:12

    I’d like to add some thoughts.
    I wrote a novel in 2012 and “True love cast out all evil”, the album Roky Erickson recorded with Okkervil River in 2010, has been the main inspiration to my project.
    Furthermore, I think I am a citizen of the world but, as an European, I’m proud to say that Roky was among the artists who, in the 80’s, could record a bunch of great LPs thanks to New Rose Records, a cult-label led by Frenchman Patrick Mathè, who signed a lot of great artists to whom there wasn’t room to work and play in the American majors’ synth-arena guitars-drum machines’ led big and fake sound. Whereas Bryan Adams, Springsteen, Tina Turner and other stadium hirelings ruled, an historical and honest musician as Roky couldn’t do anything but escape elsewhere.

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    • hervemec
      hervemec 8 June, 2019, 14:19

      Très bel article, Andrea. J’ai vu RE en 2018 au Teragram Ballroom à LA et j’ai été très impressionné. Bon week-end!

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