AUSTIN, Texas (CelebrityAccess) Roky Erickson, 71, known as the leader of the influential 60s group 13th Floor Elevators and a heady solo career with halts due to mental illness, died in Austin, Texas, May 31.
His death was announced by his brother Mikel on Facebook.
“Roky lived in so many worlds, you couldn’t keep up with him,” music producer Bill Bentley told Variety. “He lived so much and not always on this planet.”
Bentley produced the album Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye, a 1990 Erickson tribute album that included recordings by R.E.M., Primal Scream, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and ZZ Top, among others.
The 13th Floor Elevators were known for their psychedelic rock, punctuated by the 1966 hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me” but the band fell apart in large part because of Erickson, whose erratic behavior may have been exacerbated by extensive use of LSD. Erickson’s husky voice and guitar work moved rock into the psychedelic era, and Erickson became a lifelong embodiment of the movement.
The Elevators wrapped their career after Erickson was institutionalized for three years after pleading insanity to avoid jail time for possession of marijuana. During his stay, he reportedly received electroshock therapy to treat schizophrenia.
Erickson went on to a solo career that mirrored that of Daniel Johnston, another Texas songwriter whose life was marked with instability, spending much of the ’80s living with his mother but all the time writing music like that on the 1995 album All That May Do My Rhyme and touring throughout the 90s, all the while being admired by fellow musicians. Ghost recently recorded one of his songs, “If You Have Ghosts.”
He was a regular at the South By Southwest Music Festival and reunited with the 13th Elevators for a festival named after one of their songs, Austin’s Levitation Festival.