Day 9

July 15th 1947
Roky Erickson’s Birthday

How moved you are by Roky Erick­son depends how far up or down you are on the evo­lu­tion­ary tree. Tears can fall in the most unlike­ly moments, and for any num­ber of rea­sons. His cat­er­waul­ing 4-octave Tex­an shriek made teen dra­mas out of the 13th Floor Ele­va­tors’ extrav­a­gant cos­mic notions. Roky was the mouth­piece of those psy­che­del­ic pio­neers, with all the impli­ca­tions of what a mouth­piece is – as in Tom­my Hall’s putting words into his mouth, being fed too much acid, bit­ing off more than you can chew. But Roky was the local teen heart­throb boy won­der, and at 18 already in pos­ses­sion of a suc­cess­ful career. He’d writ­ten ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ (“at 13 or sumthin like that”) and tak­en the vocal style of local hero Bud­dy Hol­ly, turn­ing it into an even more caf­feinat­ed heli­um mis­sion. What this son of an arty musi­cal fam­i­ly was not to know was that his poet­ry – lat­er to be shown in print as a ver­i­ta­ble cos­mic stew of near-reli­gious dec­la­ra­tions – would be, through­out the Ele­va­tors’ songs, most­ly over­writ­ten by a Gur­d­ji­ef­fi­an hyper­ven­ti­la­tor almost a decade his senior. That Roky was strug­gling, by the record­ing of the first Ele­va­tors’ album, even to score a day-pass out of Rusk men­tal insti­tu­tion is just about the most unright­eous metaphor for a most­ly right­eous career.

For some­one who was men­tal­ly frag­ile in any case, what Roky has endured makes him saint­ly. Not a mar­tyr, but pas­sion bear­er. He did not gorge him­self, he was fed – put through these things – a vic­tim of his birth­place, of his fam­i­ly, and of the lofty nature of his band leader. What a role to under­take, what a cross to bear. Who of us upon try­ing such things would not them­selves have turned into a head­case? The sto­ry of the Ele­va­tors is as on the edge as rock’n’roll sto­ries can get. Up against it in a way no one else was, they vir­tu­al­ly erase every oth­er rock’n’roll tale.

Hap­py Birth­day, Roky Erick­son – how we love you, here at the SydArthur Festival!

Let’s ring in this impor­tant lunar day by lis­ten­ing to the remark­able ‘Crea­ture with the Atom Brain’, from Roky’s one-time come­back album THE EVIL ONE. Crack open your own melt­ed plas­tic brain and mourn and swoon along to Roswell Roky in full Star­dust Cow­boy mode. “Crea­ture with the atom brain, why is he act­ing so strange?” Brought up reli­gious and watch­ing too many hor­ror movies as a child, poor Roky fell into a Jun­gian under­world soup not of his own mak­ing. Unlike our own dear Syd Bar­rett, Roky rose irreg­u­lar­ly out of the swamps to bring forth new myths, new fears, new neu­roses for this Indus­tri­al Age. But hey, when the all-per­va­sive Chris­t­ian church destroys your every last tem­ple, divin­i­ty and tra­di­tion, what’s left but to start all over again? Witchfind­er Roky got medieval on our arse…still scared of things we climbed out of long ago. But doesn’t that fear sound good?


Sat Saturday
Sun Sunday
Mon Monday
Tue Tuesday
Wed Wednesday
Thu Thursday
Fri Friday
Day 1: Saturday Jul 7th
Day 2: Sunday Jul 8th
Day 3: Monday Jul 9th
Day 4: Tuesday Jul 10th
Day 5: Wednesday Jul 11th
Day 6: Thursday Jul 12th
Day 7: Friday Jul 13th
Day 8: Saturday Jul 14th
Day 9: Sunday Jul 15th
Day 10: Monday Jul 16th
Day 11: Tuesday Jul 17th
Day 12: Wednesday Jul 18th
Day 13: Thursday Jul 19th
Day 14: Friday Jul 20th
Day 15: Saturday Jul 21st
Day 16: Sunday Jul 22nd
Day 17: Monday Jul 23rd
Day 18: Tuesday Jul 24th
Day 19: Wednesday Jul 25th
Day 20: Thursday Jul 26th
Day 21: Friday Jul 27th
Day 22: Saturday Jul 28th
Day 23: Sunday Jul 29th
Day 24: Monday Jul 30th
Day 25: Tuesday Jul 31st
Day 27: Thursday Aug 2nd
Day 28: Friday Aug 3rd