Roky Erickson, father of psychedelic rock, dead at 71

    He was a founding member of the influential rock band, The 13th Floor Elevators.

    Roky Erickson at O2 Forum Kentish Town on April 13, 2016 in London, England.
    Image: Venla Shalin / Redferns

    Psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson, who was a founding member of The 13th Floor Elevators, died last Friday. He was 71.

    The cause of the icon’s death is not publicly known at this time.

    Erickson co-founded The 13th Floor Elevators in 1965 at the age of 18 and was the band’s lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. The group went on to win over the then-burgeoning rock scene over the course of their four albums. Shortly after the band’s break-up in 1969, Erickson went solo and dove headfirst into experimental rock sounds on a bevy of labels, from Rhino to New Rose Records.

    The guitarist’s influence across rock music cannot be understated—REM’s Peter Buck once joked that his band’s acronym stood for “Roky Erickson’s music.” Buck’s band, alongside Butthole Surfers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, ZZ Top and Primal Scream covered a diverse selection of Erickson’s work for a tribute album released in 1990 by Sire Records.

    Dogged by mental health issues, Erickson fought paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis and subsequent electroshock therapy throughout his life. He would overcome them in his later years, with help from his brother Sumner Erickson. The rocker’s return-to-form at the start of the new millennia resulted in the documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me, which covered his decades-long career, along with Erickson’s final album, True Love Cast Out All Evil, which was released in 2010.

    RIP, Roky Erickson. Revisit The 13th Floor Elevators’ debut album, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, below: