Texas rock recluse Roky Erickson finally coming to Minnesota


Sidelined for decades by mental illness, the 13th Floor Elevators is due Feb. 3 at First Ave with the Black Angels.

Roky Erikson, right, performed with Will Sheff and Okkervil River during the 2010 South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.

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]