13th Floor Elevators

From Academic Kids

The 13th Floor Elevators were an underground psychedelic band (widely regarded as the first band to be called psychedelic) in the mid 1960s, originally formed late 1965 in Austin,Texas, USA by Roky Erickson v. + gtr,Tommy Hall jug , Benny Thurman b. , Stacy Sutherland gtr, John Ike Walton drums . Erickson was the band's singer, guitarist and primary songwriter, while Hall's amplified "electric jug"-- usually sounding rather like a cuica --remains one of the band's most famous and distinguishing features. The band's name is reputed to have been based on the fact that the letter "M" (supposedly standing for marijuana) is the thriteenth letter of the English alphabet.

The band had their only charting US hit, "You're Gonna Miss Me", early in their career. In 1966, came the band's first and most popular album, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, which marked the first appearance of the word "psychedelic" in an album title. That was followed by Easter Everywhere (1967), an integrated musical experience, if not a concept album.

Drug problems and harassment by law enforcement quickly helped tear the band apart. Facing a pot possession charge Eriskson made the disastrous decision to be admitted to a mental hospital rather than face years in prison; as a result he was forced to undergo electroshock treatment and drug therapy, which left him with permanent mental problems. In this respect, and also because of his unique musical and lyrical style, Erickson is often compared to the similarly ill-fated Syd Barrett.

Bob Dylan credits the band with the best recording of his song Baby Blue.The final album they recorded as a group was entitled: Bull of the Woods, released in 1968.

Erickson continued to record -see Two Headed Dog- and play live in the 1970s, and into the 1980s, through the 1990s and into the 21st Century. The band itself was still considered to be important enough regionally to merit a panel discussion at the 2005 SXSW music festival, along with Powell St.John one of their songwriters.Rokys younger brother Sumner has formed a tribute band of sorts, with bassist Ronnie Leatherman see- www.rokyerickson.net , and there is also the Tommy Hall Schedule which is also a tribute band dedicated to the Elevators' music. see http://www.tommyhallschedule.com


  • Benny Thurman - former bassist with the thirteenth floor elevators left the band shortly before their excursion to san francisco in 1966 , he now plays violin.and acheived recognition in his other bands, most notably leading 'Plum Nellie' and 'Mother Earth' along with Powell St.John in the early 70's at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin.
  • John Ike Walton, builder of musical instruments, drummer, instrumentalist and founding member of the band, presently builds kalimba and "zulu-drums". He presently resides in the Texas Hill country. His family originally supported the creation and subsequent management of the band and the earlier band 'The Lingsmen'John Presently is playing with http://tommyhallschedule.com along with Ronnie Leatherman who joined the band for their 60's San Francisco dates at the Avalon and Fillmore.both of whom left the band because of monetary/mangerial disagreements with the bands label. John is not credited on the Easter Everywhere LP, though he does play on "levitation" and "she lives" - two of the more popular singles (or 45s) released .

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