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The Psychedelic Legacy of Roky Erickson

From: Adam Allington
Length: 06:54

Roky Erickson is the godfather of pyschedelic rock.

Rokypromo_small During the mid 1960?s the sound of rock and roll changed almost overnight. You can hear it almost across the board from the Stones to the Beatles to the Beach Boys. One reason for this quantum leap of creativity was simply?the drugs. Widespread use of hallucinogenic drugs among artists and musicians was helping them explore uncharted creative waters. Roky (Rocky) Erickson, was one of those artists. A garage rock prodigy, Roky fronted the legendary Texas psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators before being confined to a state mental institution for possession of marijuana. Roky?s subsequent mental collapse and return to health is the stuff of rock and roll legend. Roky performed in Chicago last weekend at the Intonation Music Festival--the first time he has performed outside of his native Austin, TX in 30 years! Originally broadcast on Weekend America in 2006

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Piece Description

During the mid 1960?s the sound of rock and roll changed almost overnight. You can hear it almost across the board from the Stones to the Beatles to the Beach Boys. One reason for this quantum leap of creativity was simply?the drugs. Widespread use of hallucinogenic drugs among artists and musicians was helping them explore uncharted creative waters. Roky (Rocky) Erickson, was one of those artists. A garage rock prodigy, Roky fronted the legendary Texas psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators before being confined to a state mental institution for possession of marijuana. Roky?s subsequent mental collapse and return to health is the stuff of rock and roll legend. Roky performed in Chicago last weekend at the Intonation Music Festival--the first time he has performed outside of his native Austin, TX in 30 years! Originally broadcast on Weekend America in 2006

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Review of The Psychedelic Legacy of Roky Erickson

My knowledge of music and music history is shockingly slim, so everything I know of Roky (Rocky) Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators I learned from this piece. I'm afraid that if I were listening to the radio and this piece came on, my mind might drift away. I think if I knew something of Rocky and his band, my ears might well have perked up; I'd be interested in the "what happened to him?" information that the piece provides. But, I wanted more of Rocky. I think perhaps the producer did the best he could with the little he got (we learn that Rocky is not much of a talker). Still, I wanted more Rocky, and in the end the piece felt a bit "distant" because it relied more on the comments of his friends/ former band members. I was not left with a strong enough impression of Rocky himself, of his own story from 1958, brief stardom, drugs and mental hospitals, to now, performing live in Chicago 2006. I felt the producer was trying to make Rocky's story too much a story "of the times," and I wanted just more of Rocky's story.

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Review of The Psychedelic Legacy of Roky Erickson

The piece sheds light on an instrumental figure in psychedelic rock as well as giving a human face to a cult figure that over time has become shrouded in mystery and enigma. The sound rich piece is very vivid and engaging with testaments from friends and fellow musicians and most importantly of all, Roky Erikson himself. The well-written script and recollections don?t shy away from the subject of drug abuse and psychedelics. Of course, the task of condensing a lifetime into under seven minutes can?t give a complete portrait but in this case, though the piece gives the illusion of an easy listen it is very dense on information and manages to give a good-sized picture of this unique and influential artist.

Gianluca Tramontana
ResonanceFM 104.4

Broadcast History

Originally aired on Weekend America in June of 2006

Musical Works

Songs used: You're Gonna Miss Me, Slip Inside This House and May the Circle Remain Unbroken by the 13th Floor Elevators.

Also, Please Judge by Roky Erickson off of All that May Do My Rhyme (1995)