Roky Erickson is an Austinite from way back and the exploding kernel of ur-psycheledic garage band the 13th Floor Elevators. The other part of his mythos, the shadow that sharpens and saturates the colors of his incredibly prescient songwriting, is that he's been out of it for as long as I've been alive. For most of his adult life, Roky Erickson's been crippled by schizophrenia. The drugs probably didn't help, either.
Someone told me a story this weekend at The Psychedelic Ice-Cream Social, a benefit concert for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians that Roky hosts at Threadgill's. People saw Roky, totally shellshocked, standing on a street corner several years ago. He held a cardboard sign that said "I'm Roky."
What a contrast. His brother was appointed his legal guardian in 2001, and Roky's rounded a corner. He's coming out to play shows—big ones, like concert halls in London or Coachella in 2007—with more frequency. Wikipedia says he even got a driver's license and a Volvo.
The entire crowd of about 400 people hanging around Threadgill's outdoor stage was beaming. It was just so good to see him in shape and back in his element. He sang classic Roky Erickson songs with Okkervil River as his band. "You’re Gonna Miss Me" was the last song of the Ice Cream Social, played just as the sun was dipping below the back fence, and it was magic.
The world is good and right at the end of the day.