By Jason Diamond / May 31, 2019

Psychedelic Rock Legend Roky Erickson Has Died at 71

It took decades for the 13th Floor Elevators frontman to get the respect he deserved

Roky Erickson (Guy Clark/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Roky Erickson (Guy Clark/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

There are plenty of names in the history of music that are overlooked or outright ignored. Some might get discovered later in life, while others don’t ever get to experience the love and fame they so deserved while they’re alive. Towards the end of his lifetime, Roky Erickson, thankfully, got to play to fans who knew his work in the band the 13th Floor Elevators and later as a solo artist, was truly ahead of its time. But before that, the bulk of Erickson’s work was largely forgotten.

Erickson, who died today at 71, was maybe most famous for his time as the singer of the psychedelic 13th Floor Elevators in the middle of the 1960s. If the world was fair, the band would be given the same respect and adoration reserved for groups like the Grateful Dead and The Doors, but drug use and Erickson’s paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis that led to a stay in a psychiatric hospital and electric shock therapy in the late-’60s, derailed the band. A solo career started off promising, with Stu Cook of Creedence Clearwater Revival serving as producer, but, again, Erickson would fall into obscurity for the ’80s and ’90s. In 2007, a healthy Erickson started playing live again and released the album True Love Cast Out All Evil with the band Okkervil River backing him.

“Roky lived in so many worlds, you couldn’t keep up with him,” Bentley said about Erickson in a statement reported by Variety. “He lived so much, and not always on this planet.”

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