True Love Cast Out All Evil: The Songwriting Legacy of Roky Erickson
“Transcendence came with a price,” Brian T. Atkinson writes in his introduction to this collection of reflections by and about pioneer psychedelic rocker Roky Erickson (1947–2019). The singer and songwriter who fronted the 13th Floor Elevators burst onto the Texas music scene in 1966 with the release of “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” the band’s only charting single, which featured Erickson’s primal vocal stylings. The band attracted considerable regional attention, including interest from a young Janis Joplin, who considered joining the group before opting to go to San Francisco instead.
Through his interviews with those who were there and presentation of Erickson’s own words, Atkinson chronicles how Erickson was haunted for most of his life by mental illness, likely compounded by his liberal usage of hallucinogenic and other drugs. Despite that, however, his influence on Texas musicians of various genres is vast. As Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top attests in his foreword, “He stands alone to this day and is revered as an artist because he had the gift of a wonderful voice.”