In what we’re guessing will be his first-ever appearance in the Twin Cities, Texas’ back-from-the-brink cosmic rock legend Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators notoriety is finally set to perform at First Avenue on Feb. 3 with fellow Austin rockers the Black Angels as his backing band. Tickets ($20) are already on sale at First Ave outlets.
As the earth-rumbling howler and otherworldly lyricist in the Elevators and later the Aliens, Erickson pioneered psychedelic rock in the mid-‘60s and went on to influence the likes of R.E.M. to Jack White with such songs as “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” “I Walked With a Zombie” and “Reverberation.”
As was well chronicled in the documentary “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” though, Erickson was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1968 and suffered years of mistreatment during a decade-long prison stay after being busted with a single joint. He became a recluse through the ‘80s and ‘90s as his mental-health issues persisted, in which time he was the subject of a rather stellar tribute/benefit album, “Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye,” featuring R.E.M., ZZ Top, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Doug Sahm and the Butthole Surfers.
By 2005, though, Erickson’s mental state took something of a miraculous turnaround, and he began performing again with such hometown backers as the Meat Puppets and Okkervil River, the latter of whom recorded a 2010 album with him, “True Love Casts Out All Evil.” He and the Black Angels have also recorded a new record, “Indigo Meadow.”
As someone who has seen Erickson perform in recent years and in the years he was very bad off – including a few well-intentioned Austin gigs where he stood on stage with his arms crossed and wouldn’t sing – I can verify this is a true comeback story. Don’t miss this one. Here's a video for proof.
[Photo by Tony Nelson]