Roky Erickson

Roky Erickson

As the core member of the 13th Floor Elevators and an undisputed pioneer of psychedelic rock, the ’60s were thrilling times for Erickson.

His band was riding high in their native Texas and beyond and the howling single ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ was his calling card, but Erickson’s ‘60s ended in the stuff of nightmares. Under sharp scrutiny by the authorities due to the band’s well-expounded fondness for psychedelic drugs, Erickson was found with a single joint on his person. Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to avoid prison, he was sent to the Rusk State Hospital for the criminally insane, where he was ‘treated’ with electroconvulsive therapy and Thorazine treatment. Erickson pulled through his three and a half years at Rusk, and even put together a band while incarcerated. That band, The Missing Links, contained Roky plus two murderers and a rapist.

Released from the institution in 1974, Roky found his legend had grown while he’d been away – not least because ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ was included on 1972’s Nuggets compilation. Erickson’s experiences in the hospital proved to be fertile inspiration for his music – on leaving, he formed the group Roky Erickson And The Aliens and began penning songs about zombies, demons, vampires, and – to counter the B-movie monsters, the real-life monsters of social injustice. Erickson and the Aliens set out honing a hard rock sound that placed the psychedelic garage blues of the Elevators firmly in the last decade.