Documentary about rock pioneer Roky Erickson, detailing his rise as a psychedelic hero, his lengthy institutionalization, his descent into poverty and filth, and his brother's struggle with their religious mother to improve Roky's care.
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Outside Austin, Texas, a 53-year-old man sits in an apartment with four radios, three televisions, two amps, a radio scanner, and an electric piano playing. At the same time. Loudly. He has three teeth, his hair is matted into one huge dreadlock, and he has a notarized document on his wall declaring himself an alien, "so whoever's putting shocks to my head will stop." Thirty years earlier, Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson was a rock-and-roll icon: A manic singer who was Janis Joplin's primary influence, he fronted a band called the 13th Floor Elevators, considered by many to be the creators of psychedelic music. After a 1969 marijuana arrest, Erickson entered an insanity plea and was sent to the Rusk State Hospital, a medieval institution deep in the east Texas pineforests. He remained there for three years with the state's most violent mentally ill offenders, then reemerged a changed man: He sang about ghouls, zombies, and Satan, christened himself "the evil one," and declared himself an... Written by
While the name isn't highly remembered today by mainstream audiences, among Garage and Psychedelic collectors, Roky Erickson is a legend. His band, the 13th Floor Elevators, originated the term "Psychedelic Rock" and took the use of acid influenced rock to levels unheard of before. Erickson, just like Syd Barrett, was a tragic figure in real life. A certified schizophrenic whose stay in a mental ward only worsened his condition, seeing the man now is very depressing. Whats amazing though is that no matter how much of his mind he lost, he remained a fantastic songwriter. Just about everything by the man, either with the Elevators or his solo work, is worth owning.
The documentary is made by people who obviously have a great deal of sympathy for their topic. Like all good documentary filmmakers, Keven McAlester for the most part doesn't overload the film with either personal opinions or manipulation. He turns the camera on, and lets the subjects speak for themselves. Granted, we never learn just what is the root of Erickson's condition, but thats not a problem. Nobody ultimately knows why Erickson is the way he is. We're able to draw our own conclusions based on interviews with Erickson's friends and family (including his similarly tragic and overprotective mother). "You're Gonna Miss Me" offers no easy answers, and thats its main strength. (7/10)
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