Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beyond the 13th Floor: a brief treatise on Roky Erickson and his recent re-appearance in Houston, TX @ the Continental Club

Well, turns out there is life (and art) after too much LSD and too much mental illness.

Wednesday last was Roky Erickson’s birthday, and although Gov. Rick Perry once again failed to order state offices closed in observance we our own self did pause briefly during the hard turning of the day to consider the resiliency, the durability, the sheer Faulknerian indomitability of the human spirit, in particular the ragged-but-right spirit that we and a couple of hundred other Houstonians witnessed radiating outward last month at a downtown venue we will always know as the Former Site of Guy’s Newsstand.

That and more in this post from Slampo, as only Slampo can do.

(FYI: In locating the above image on Google Images, we came across the following on a ticket site promoting an appearance last year by RE in the UK at Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown Festival at the South Bank Centre.

( It says this: "As part of the band, The 13th Floor Elevators, Roky was to have a profound effect on rock culture. The band were the first to describe their sound as `Psychadelic' and their influence branches deep into contemporary and modern bands alike.")


in case you don't read comments on blogs, Robert Boyd, who writes the Wha' Happen? weblog, posted this reaction on Slampo's piece:
Great post. I wish I had seen the show--I love Roky and the Elevators, and I love his solo music.

There is a pretty exhaustive history of the 13th Floor Elevators called Eye Mind that is well worth reading, especially if you are a music nerd who reads books about your favorite bands. (Like me.) Erikson had a lot of bad luck that lead him to hit bottom--a band-leader, Tommy Hall, who wasn't all that concerned with how well the band did, a label that was not terribly supportive and was somewhat afraid of the drug-gobbling band, and a location--Texas--that had a vindictive justice system and a hard-on for drug-possessing hippies. One wonders if the 13th Floor Elevators had relocated to San Francisco and signed with Elektra, would Roky have had a smoother time of it? I think maybe.

In the 50s and 60s, Texas was diligent in chasing many of its most talented artists, writers, and musicians away--through lack of opportunity, through lack of appreciation, through scary drug laws, etc. Fortunately this trend started reversing itself in the 70s. But not until after Roky had been sent to Rusk for possessing one joint.

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