Roky Erickson, the former singer of Texas-based psychedelic rock band The 13th Floor Elevators, has died at the age of 71 on Friday, his brother Sumner told the Austin American-Statesman on Friday.
“The world lost a huge light and an incredible soul,” Sumner Erickson told the paper. “It wasn’t the easiest life, but he’s free of all that now.”
Born Roger Kynard Erickson in 1947 in Austin, Erickson and his band rose to prominence in the 1960s at the dawn of the psychedelic rock era. However, their success was short-lived due to Erickson’s struggles with drugs and schizophrenia. The band’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was famously in the opening scene of the 2000 film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity,” which starred John Cusack.
A late-career renaissance, which began with an Erickson tribute album in 1990 titled “Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye” that featured major acts including ZZ Top, R.E.M. and T Bone Burnett, saw his profile grow during the second half of his life, including performing live again, most notably an appearance at Coachella in 2007 and a slew of European festivals.
“You’re Gonna Miss Me,” a 2005 documentary by Keven McAlester, outlined Erickson’s rise, battle with drugs, including LSD, and ultimately, struggles with schizophrenia that landed him in hospitals. It also traced his time as a recluse before returning to making music. “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.
Erickson appeared on the Mogwai EP, “Batcat,” and Okkervil River served as his backing band on 2010’s “True Love Cast Out All Evil,” which proved to be his last solo studio album.
In 2015, The 13th Floor Elevators reunited for the first time since the band’s 1969 breakup, including Erickson and Tommy Hall, John Ike Walton, and Ronnie Leatherman. They were joined by Roky’s son Jegar Erickson, and guitarist Fred Mitchim as well.
The cause of death has yet to be released.
A Facebook account bearing Erickson’s name shared a message credited to ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons on Friday reading, in part, “Roky came to mean many things to many admirers and will continue to resonate with a legacy of remarkable style, talent, and poetic and artistic tales from beyond.”