Roky Erickson Biography

Roger Kynard Erickson, 15 July 1947, Dallas, Texas, USA. Erickson came to the fore in the infamous 13th Floor Elevators. He composed ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, the band’s most popular single, while his feverish voice and exciting guitar work provided a distinctive edge. This influential unit broke up in disarray during 1968 as Erickson began missing gigs. Arrested on a drugs charge, he faked visions to avoid imprisonment, but was instead committed to Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He was released in 1971 and began a low-key solo career, recording several singles with a new backing group, Bleib Alien. In 1980 the guitarist secured a recording contract with CBS Records but the resultant album, Roky Erickson And The Aliens, was a disappointment and compromised the artist’s vision for a clean, clear-cut production. Erickson’s subsequent releases have appeared on several minor labels. Their quality has varied, befitting a mercurial character who remains a genuine eccentric - he has persistently claimed that he is from the planet Mars. His music borrows freely from horror and science fiction films and, when inspired, he is capable of truly powerful performances.

Erickson was imprisoned in 1990 for stealing mail, but his plight inspired Sire Records’ Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye, wherein 19 acts, including R.E.M. , Jesus And Mary Chain, ZZ Top and the Butthole Surfers interpreted many of his best-known songs, the proceeds of which should ameliorate his incarceration. Following his release from a mental institution a grizzled Erickson recorded 1995’s All That May Do My Rhyme, and against all expectations of a drug-wrecked casualty record, it was one of his better efforts. Like Syd Barrett, Erickson may never return to our cosy and supposedly sane world, but unlike Barrett he is at least still attempting to make new music.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.