On Friday, the rock world lost a true pioneer. As first reported by Austin360 and later confirmed by Variety, Roky Erickson, the Texas musician and founder of the influential psych-rock group The 13th Floor Elevators, died at the age of 71. Speaking to Variety, rock producer Bill Bentley said, “Roky lived in so many worlds, you couldn’t keep up with him. He lived so much, and not always on this planet.”
Erickson rose to fame in the mid-60s. His band’s debut album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators was a breakout success and birthed the bands only major hit, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” which reached #55 on the Billboard Hot 100. The 13th Floor Elevators released four albums on the independent label International Artists between 1966 and 1969. The aforementioned debut and the band’s second album Easter Everywhere are widely regarded as psych-rock classics.
Throughout his career, Erickson struggled with drug issues and battles with mental illness. Following the band’s dissolution in the early 70s, Erickson embarked on a solo career that was sometimes interrupted by periods of institutionalization. In 2007, Erickson was the subject of the Keven McAlester documentary “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” which chronicled the musician’s excessive drug use and struggles with mental illness.
“The world lost a huge light and an incredible soul,” Sumner Erickson, Roky’s brother, told the Austin360 over the phone on Friday. ”It wasn’t the easiest life, but he’s free of all that now.”