dvd review::You’re Gonna Miss Me:A Film About Roky Erickson

The 13th Floor Elevators had one of the wildest rock singers ever and have influenced everyone from Janis Joplin to Patti Smith. They were in fact so great that it was thought that there was no way they couldn’t make it. The raw coolness of the psychedelic 13th Floor Elevators separated the band by miles from their peers. Coming from a background of rhythm and blues, the band added in feedback and a craziness that made the Elevator’s music surely their own. No doubt, the main element of the music was that great voice of Roky Erickson’s, who was influenced by the banshee like screams of James Brown and Little Richard. At his creative peak with The Elevators, Erickson created in a Dylan stream of consciousness style, that at times exceeded what the band could keep up with. The Elevators transformed 60’s America music at a time when music hotspots like the Bay Area were still stuck on folk. Once The Elevators hit, the Bay Area music scene was never the same again.

The movie includes footage of Roky at home in Austin, Texas, in addition to interviews with his wives and brothers. Roky’s protective mom is also shown and given the opportunity to explain who she is, and how she has been misrepresented. Also of interest, is seeing the brief interview with Roky’s son who for years wasn’t allow to see his dad, because Roky’s mom deemed it to be a bad idea.

There is also discussion of Roky’s first acid trip and his experimentation with psychedelics and heroin. Roky was known to be stoned all the time by the Austin authorities. As the story goes he was charged and at trial his lawyer go him off by reason of insanity and he ended up in the loony bin with a disproportionate amount of time considering his charge. In an interview from 1975 Roky described the facility as akin to a concentration camp.By the end Roky is seen as a shell of his former self, which some say was caused by the 300 plus acid trips, while others contend it was the shock treatment, or maybe Roky really is an alien from another planet. One thing is for sure, somewhere along the way Roky lost his muse.

All in all, You’re Gonna Miss Me will be a treat for fans and newcomers alike, because it is such a rare tale. Much of the live band footage is just great to see, as is Roky’s solo performance in the company of his therapist and brother. Somewhere out there though, the question must be posed as to whether Roky was simply a genius, or if he was a man possessed by great powers, which is what he trademark howl seems to indicate. More importantly, …did Roky choose to go crazy? Finally, You’re Gonna Miss Me is a compelling look at one of rock’s greatest tragedies, but by the end we can at least know that Roky is doing the best he’s done in years.

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