Let’s just start by saying I am not the biggest 13th Floor Elevators fan in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I liked some of their songs and they were obviously a hugely influential, protopunk, seminal Garage/Psychedelia band. But what I really loved about the music was the vocalist, Roger Kynard Erickson, better know to the rock world as “Roky”. Roky was gifted with a voice that was always ready to explode. The Roky that I dug was post-Elevators. While with the Elevators, the band members were REQUIRED to play every rehearsal, performance, and recording session under the influence of LSD. To add to all this, Roky also did a stint at the Rusk Prison for the Criminally Insane in Texas (for a bogus drug rap which would be a slap on the wrist today). While at the prison, he was given repeated shock treatments and forced to take powerful psychoactive drugs. Do you see the path I am walking with you now? When Roky was released from prison in the year 1972, he was a proud, card carrying member of the incredibly insane. Roky was convinced that he was an alien and that humans were “zapping” his mind. His attorney prepared a document declaring that Roky was, in fact, an alien. And THAT is the Roky, in my opinion, who made some of the greatest music of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
This documentary, directed by Kevin McAlester, is about as perfect as any can be. When I first put the DVD in, I was just totally immersed in Roky’s world. I felt, in turn, amazement, disgust, pity, jealousy, humor and redemption. This movie deeply affected me, not only because I am a huge Roky Erickson fan, but because I believe in the power of the soul. That we, as humans, are not only bound by our mental and physical health, but also what is DEEP inside of us, that place that can be as dark or as bright as we allow it to be.
(here are some songs from the movie soundtrack, also a must have)
Goodbye Sweet Dreams