That Roky Erickson continues to live and breathe, much less make records and tour, is nothing short of a miracle. Back in the 60s, he was on top of the world, or maybe all the worlds, as the handsome and charismatic leader of the 13th Floor Elevators, perhaps the original psychedelic rock band. Then he was targeted by Texas police for, as far as I can tell, having too much fun; he went to a psychiatric hospital as part of a plea bargain, and it was all downhill from there.
Roky was never the same afterward, due to some mutually reinforcing combination of mental illness, incarceration trauma, and truly excessive amounts of LSD. He continued to make music, some of it quite good, but always had the haunted look of a man struggling with demons, which were often the subject of his lyrics – along with aliens, the bible, vampires, zombies, walking in the graveyard with a two-headed dog, etc. After several decades of sporadic releases and public appearances, by the late 90s he had dropped out of sight entirely, living with his mother and seemingly spiraling downward into a vortex of madness.
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