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Psychedelic Rock Star, Roky Erickson, Dies at Age 71

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Described as ‘heroic icon of modern rock n roll’, psychedelic rock music legend and founder of band 13th Floor Elevators, Roky Erickson has passed away at age 71. Erickson’s representatives confirmed his death in a heartfelt statement, but did not reveal the cause of death to the public. They appealed for privacy for his family.

They posted the statement on Facebook this past Friday:

Roky Erickson, an heroic icon of modern rock & roll and one of the best friends the music ever had, died in Austin,…

Posted by Roky Erickson on Friday, May 31, 2019

In addition, Billy Gibbons, a long-time friend also paid his respect to the musician:

It’s almost unfathomable to contemplate a world without Roky Erickson. He created his own musical galaxy and early on was a true inspiration.

13th Floor Elevators: Rock Band

Many knew Roky Erickson as the founder and frontman of the influential psych-rock band ’13th Floor Elevators. Their debut single, You’re Gonna Miss Me, remains one of the most memorable rock songs today. Reaching No.55 in the US charts at the time, it even led to a TV appearance on American Bandstand.

Meanwhile, as for 13th Floor Elevators, the band was among the very first psychedelic rock bands. Moreover, it was known to be associated with the use of LSD. As it is with many rock bands, their music came from a place where drugs was a norm. Their work eventually became more extensive; the band Primal Scream covered their eight-minute song Slip Inside Yhis House.

Erickson’s Life and Personal Struggles

Unfortunately, Roky Erickson struggled with mental health issues throughout his life. Often, he had to receive medical care for schizophrenia. When he was arrested for marijuana possession in 1969, he chose to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital over jail. However, this meant that he ended up spending three years in a maximum security hospital. Doctors even treated him with electric shock therapy, which was damaging to his health. It was no surprise that the hospitalization brought the band’s career to an end.

Nonetheless, despite the hardships, Erickson continued his music career solo. He also collaborated with bands like The Aliens and The Explosives. Even though he did not perform much in the 1980’s and 90’s, 13th Floor Elevators reunited for one-off gigs in 1984 and 2015. From 2007 onward, Erickson toured more widely. He even played high-profile gigs at the Coachella festival and Royal Festival Hall in London.

Remembering Roky Erickson

Following his death, several musicians paid tribute to the rock legend

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