Photos by: Dillon Vaughn
Very few performers have lived lives as hard as Roky Erickson. A godfather of psych rock and garage, Roky’s history is almost unbelievable. A musical prodigy from childhood to a genre defining songwriter at age 19, it’s hard to believe the scope and impact of his work hasn’t made him a staple among Venice Beach type stencil paintings and graphic tees at Urban Outfitters. (His story’s much cooler than that.)
Finally having the chance to see a performance was something I made my heart drop the moment he walked on stage – not from anticipation, but from fear that the hints of mental illness and the very visible mark of time on this man would lead to a performance that would make it hard to listen to the music again. Sitting on stage in front of everyone was an older man that seemed somewhat lost and nearly puppeteered by his much younger backing band nearly hiding in the shadows. The moment the music began my fears were crushed; applause and screams from the audience fueled something in Roky. His eyes gained some kind of sparkle from that interaction and the familiarity of the music seemed to bring out a completely unchanged version of himself. What followed was a lengthy set with a flawless vocal performance unlike nearly any other performer I’ve seen with his history. Luckily this was only the first night of his tour; I highly recommend catching a date in your city and witnessing a true legend come to life on stage.