Psych Rocker Roky Erikson’s Solo Career Gets A Reappraisal In New Book

True Love Cast Out All Evil: The Songwriting Legacy of Roky Erickson is arriving on November 15, 2021 through Texas A&M University Press to bring us a reappraisal of the man and his work from author Brian T. Atkinson. Atkinson’s other books with TAMU Press focus on Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Mickey Newbury.  

Atkinson explains his motivation for this new volume:

“Roky was one of Texas’ most original and unique singer-songwriters. His short time fronting the psychedelic rock pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators in the ’60s made him a cult legend, but his 50-year solo career that followed was barely noticed. Hopefully, this book will shine a light on that important and influential time in Texas music.”

More than 70 friends and disciples of Erickson’s provide perspective in the new book, including Henry Rollins, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Stu Cook and Butthole Surfers’ King Coffey, as well as Meat Puppets’ Cris Kirkwood, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, the Black Angels’ Alex Maas and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff .

Coffey comments:

“Roky’s voice was undeniable. He screamed and yelled like great Texas blues singers — freaky, rocking, weird. Roky was a visionary singer and songwriter.”

For those unfamiliar, Erickson was an Austin-based singer-songwriter and psychedelic-drug enthusiast, however, as Atkins says in his introduction to the book, Erickson’s “transcendence came with a price” as he was “haunted for most of his life by mental illness”. His influence on Texas musicians was particularly evident, spanning multiple genres, and as ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons says in his foreword to the book, “He was out and out one of the wildest rock singers. Roky is revered.”

Along with insights by music journalists like Joe Nick Patoski and the recollections of friends and family members like brother Mikel Erickson, the new book includes the poetry and lyrics written by Erickson during his confinement at Rusk State Hospital in the late ’60s and early ’70s to portray accurately his “brilliant, troubled mind” and track his extensive influence, still felt today.