a week ago (already?), 00soul and i went to the el rey to see roky erickson play a gig. it was his first show in l.a. in 26 years, and it represented one of those rare '60s-rocker stories with a happy resolution. read more about it in this fine piece my no. 1 wrote for citybeat.
back in the '60s, roky was the leader of the 13th floor elevators, a psychedelic rock band out of texas, best known for the immortal "you're gonna miss me." he took too many drugs and fried his brain, leading to such later horror-rock/devil-flavored classics as "i walked with a zombie," "the creature with the atom brain," and the insanely catchy "don't shake me lucifer." he was a mess for a long time, and now he's back.
i first heard the elevators in college, thanks to the thorough musical education i received from my then-BF greg, who at the time was the psychedelic guru of our little band of penn state freaks. the elevators were always among my faves -- the electric jug, roky's soulful cri de coeur, and that rattling, otherworldly sound. we listened to a lot of elevators. their songs sounded like messages from another world that existed right within this one -- and from a man who walked alone in a strange state. roky was, to me, always a weird, tragic figure, both admirable for his wild imagination and ability to see beyond the beyond, and pitiable for how much damage had been done to him via drugs, madness, and the treatments for both.
many years later i met 00soul, and we discovered a shared love of garage rock, including the elevators and roky's solo work. but i never realized how well i knew so many of roky's songs until last sunday, when every tune he played was as familiar as an old friend.
these days when i go to shows, it's a rare night if i meet one or two people i know. last sunday was one of those nights -- a cross-section of friends and acquaintances from across the decades. greg was there. fellow scribes were there. longtime publicist and musician pals were there, along with relatively new friends i don't see much. the love in the room was unbelievably buoyant. not just b/c we were all together, but b/c roky was soooo good. his singing was strong, and he smiled so brightly. he just radiated bliss. his band was great, powering nimbly through rockers like "a cold night for alligators" and "you're gonna miss me" (no electric jug, though; bummer), and delicately shading the pretty pop of "starry eyes." he seemed so happy and comfortable on stage, and it felt like he was, to quote one of his songs, home to stay.
i spent the set in a blissful state of my own, and not just due to the two drinks i had. i shared a psychedelic psychic moment with one of my fellow scribes, and then, just to make things extra-spooky, during the encore i started telling people i wanted to hear "the wind and more," which has always been a favorite of mine but seemed an unlikely choice. and yet, when the very next number started, just seconds after i'd whispered my desire to greg, that's what they played!!
wow. i was both elated and slightly stunned. the song sounded great and pushed me right into the warm-fuzzy red zone. i think i loved everyone right then. for a fleeting moment, i felt like i too was home.