Roky and the Devil

Roky Erickson

“He was possessed, so vivid and mesmerizing. His voice was so sharp and cutting — sometimes he’d get lost in his screams.”

It’s hard to fully explain just how vital a figure Roky Erickson was for all the weirdos growing up deep in the heart of Texas. Not just as an acid casualty, of someone who went out too far and never quite came back, but just as someone who had to cope with the suffocating conservative culture of Texas and America at large by making gloriously weird music. Has anyone but Roky ever written this many insanely catchy, tangy songs about the Devil? Maybe I didn’t quite understand it then, playing endlessly my cassette copy of You’re Gonna Miss Me, which compiled all of his post-Elevators insanity, or the heartbreaking fragility of Never Say Goodbye, which my friend Craig released at the end of the ’90s (great write-up of that set here), but his life and art –in addition to the capturing the darkness that exists alongside such searches for enlightenment– tells us more about America’s brutal repression of its artists and visionaries than almost anything else.

Roky Erickson remembrance, for Vulture.