When I'm in a slump, I comfort myself by saying if I believe in dinosaurs, then somewhere, they must be believing in me. And if they believe in me, then I can believe in me. Then I bust out.
~Mookie Wilson, World Series champion
With all of the music icons of the 1960s now in their 70s, I've sort of prepared myself for being sad pretty often as the news comes down of who we've lost.
There are certain musicians, whose names I'm too superstitious to mention here, who are going to hit me pretty hard when they go.
And then a piece of news hits you by surprise.
I was scrolling through Twitter not long after midnight when I came across the news that Roky Erickson had died on Friday.
It's not a name I expect many of you to know. And if I'm honest, I don't have the time or energy at this time of night (morning?) to write a proper tribute.
I'll only say this, Erickson seemed to have a lot of promise with his band the 13th Floor Elevators in the late 1960s. They scored one minor hit with "You're Gonna Miss Me."
Unfortunately for Erickson, trouble seemed to follow him. He suffered from mental illness and he enjoyed his psychedelic drugs -- in fact, the Elevators are credited with being the first band to refer to their music as "psychedlic."
So, when he got caught with marijuana in 1969 -- a felony in Texas at the time -- Erickson chose to plead insanity rather than face serious jail time.
Instead of jail, that got him several years in the state psychiatric hospital, where he was subjected to electroshock therapy to treat his schizophrenia. Whatever nerves the illness and drugs hadn't shattered, the therapy took care of.
He came out of the hospital a man with much worse mental illness than he entered. Though still clearly musically talented, his music became increasingly obsessed with subjects like zombies and aliens.
In the 1980s, Erickson even signed an affidavit claiming he was an alien.
Through all the weirdness, Erickson never lost his talent, neither with a guitar nor vocally. He possessed a truly unique and powerful voice for rock 'n' roll.
The friend who turned me on to Roky's 1980s recordings described it thus: "It's like Buddy Holly, fronting Thin Lizzy and singing about aliens." As weird as it sounds, that pretty much nails it.
Still, there was a degree of redemption for Erickson. A number of musicians who came afterward cited him as an influence, as can be seen by the 1990 tribute album "Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson," which featured artists as talented and diverse as ZZ Top, Doug Sahm, R.E.M., The Jesus and Mary Chain and T-Bone Burnett.
Erickson got a fitting swan song back in 2010 with "True Love Cast Out All Evil." It was a beautiful, though flawed and a bit broken, final chapter to a strange journey of a musical career.
So, for your enjoyment, is an Ameerican Bandstand performance of "You're Gonna Miss Me," which stands, all these years later, as the quintessential Roky Erickson song.