Roky Erickson was the frontman for the 1960s band, 13th Floor Elevators.
Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson dead at 71

Roky Erickson, a psychedelic rock ’n’ roll pioneer who fronted the 13th Floor Elevators, died of unknown causes Friday in Austin, Texas, Rolling Stone reported. He was 71.

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“Roky Erickson, an heroic icon of modern rock & roll and one of the best friends the music ever had, died in Austin, Texas today,” the singer’s representative confirmed in a statement to the magazine.

Erickson’s death was confirmed to Variety by his brother, Mikel Erickson, to Bill Bentley, who produced the 1990 Erickson tribute album “Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye.”

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“Roky lived in so many worlds, you couldn’t keep up with him,” Bentley told Variety. “He lived so much, and not always on this planet.”


Erickson’s career was cut short due to mental illness and years spent in a Texas mental hospital, according to Rolling Stone.

Erickson co-founded the 13th Floor Elevators in 1965. His howling vocals and guitar work helped spark the psychedelic music revolution during the mid-1960s.

The group’s 1966 debut album, “The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators,” was instrumental in the psychedelic movement but did not generate much interest among mainstream music critics. 

Erickson’s intense vocals was the key to the group’s most notable single, the 1966 song, “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” The group broke up in 1969, Rolling Stone reported.

Erickson soon began showing symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia and was arrested in 1969 for possession of a marijuana joint, the magazine reported.

Erickson was sent to a mental hospital for three years.

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