Erickson’s death was confirmed by his brother Mikel to Bill Bentley, who produced the all-star 1990 Erickson tribute album “Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye,” which included performances by R.E.M., ZZ Top, Doug Sahm and other stars.
“Roky lived in so many worlds, you couldn’t keep up with him,” Bentley said. “He lived so much, and not always on this planet.”
Erickson’s intense, piercing yowl was the focal point of the Elevators’ seething 1966 single “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” The band released four albums of churning psychedelia for Lelan Rogers’ independent label International Artists in 1966-69; its first two collections, “The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators” and “Easter Everywhere,” are acknowledged classics of psych-rock.
After the band folded — due in no small measure due to Erickson’s drug habits and escalating mental illness — the singer embarked on a lengthy solo career that was sometimes interrupted by periods of institutionalization.
He released a scathing series of singles flashing horror and sci-fi imagery — “Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog),” “The Interpreter,” “Starry Eyes,” “Bermuda,” “Don’t Slander Me” — during the ‘70s and ‘80s, and issued several solo albums, one of which, “Roky Erickson and the Aliens,” was issued by CBS.
Erickson’s battle with mental illness was chronicled in the affecting 2007 documentary “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”
In later years, he toured regularly, backed by such acts as the Black Angels, and could often be found performing on his favorite holiday, Halloween.
More to come …