The 13th Floor Elevators are known as being one of the earliest examples of American psychedelia, a position by which they came honestly since Roky Erickson was a dedicated LSD user.  But Erickson also suffered from schizophrenia, receiving electro-shock therapy to treat it, thereby exacerbating his problems. He spent the late 60s and earl 70s in mental institutions, and long stretches on his own in unmedicated states. Yet Erickson's influence on modern rock music caused him to be championed by musical figures as disparate as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top to the Butthole Surfers.  He was able to make a return to music starting in the 90s after many years of poverty and isolation. He is an active musician today, recently guesting on post-rock band Mogwai's 2007 the Batcat EP.
The 13th Floor Elevators are known as being one of the earliest examples of American psychedelia, a position by which they came honestly since Roky Erickson was a dedicated LSD user. But Erickson also suffered from schizophrenia, receiving electro-shock therapy to treat it, thereby exacerbating his problems. He spent the late 60s and earl 70s in mental institutions, and long stretches on his own in unmedicated states. Yet Erickson’s influence on modern rock music caused him to be championed by musical figures as disparate as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top to the Butthole Surfers. He was able to make a return to music starting in the 90s after many years of poverty and isolation. He is an active musician today, recently guesting on post-rock band Mogwai’s 2007 the Batcat EP.

Listen to this song by Austin Texas’ 60s garage-rock heroes the 13th Floor Elevators, featuring 19-year old singer-guitarist Roky Erickson.  It’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, their 1966 single which also featured on their The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators LP.  This was their only hit, getting in at #55 on the Billboard Top 100 that year.  But, it was a hit that counted.   In a span of 2 minutes and change, it influenced the development of psychedelia, blues rock, and multiple strains of  punk rock for decades after it was recorded.

The garage-rock scene, which were actually a scattering of little scenes all over the United States and here in Canada, came partially out of the influence of British Invasion bands like the Animals, Them, and the Yardbirds, among others.  But, those scenes also sprang directly from the the love of bare bones American soul and R&B by which those British bands were also influenced – Link Wray, Solomon Burke, Booker T. & the MGs, and many others.

Nailing the garage rock trend down in terms of musical style isn’t easy.  But, one overarching characteristic was that of a DIY spirit.  If you wanted to be in a band, all you needed do was to love rock ‘n’roll,  learn the basic chords, form a band, plug-in, and start wailin’.  Of  course because of this, there were so many of these bands, very few of them had much success beyond one single, or at most, a single album. But what this wave of little scenes and vital little groups did do was to outline a modus operandi that would feed the growth of  punk rock of the 70s and beyond.

When the Nuggets collection was amassed and put out in the early 70s, collecting some of the bright points of the 1965-68 era of garage rock of which the 13th Floor Elevators soon came to be inextricably associated, it was practically a rosetta stone for bands like  Television and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, not to mention the Ramones who would start a musical brush fire while using the same approach as you’re hearing in “You’re Gonna Miss Me”.

For more information and music, check out Roky Erickson’s website.

Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “The 13th Floor Elevators Sing ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’

  1. Oh, that’s a good one.

    I really like Roky Erickson. He’s one of those artists I wish had made more music, but for personal reasons, was unable to. Such a shame.

  2. Thanks, guys.

    Morgan, that ‘s a great article.

    I think that if Erickson had been born twenty years later, he would have received better care as well. Not much was really known about mental illness even at that time. I feel the same way about Nick Drake. Twenty years later, and the chances of living a normal life without being institutionalized, or heavily medicated, or both would have risen exponentially.

    Cheers again for comments, gents!

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