Last night I went to the Royal Festival Hall to see the film ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, a documentary about Roky Erickson, part of the Meltdown festival.
As I’ve mentioned before, Roky was the singer with one of my favourite bands, the 13th Floor Elevators. The Elevators (as I’ll call them from now on to save typing -I don’t know if anyone ever uses this abbreviation – I certainly don’t) were the first band to use the term ‘psychedelic rock’ to describe their music. Of course (as is often the case) they didn’t achieve much in the way of commercial success but were hugely influential - ‘Slip Inside This House’ on Screamadelica is a cover of their song. Their only ‘hit’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is on the soundtrack to the film High Fidelity.
Besides this, I knew very little about them until the line-up for Meltdown was announced. If I’d given it any thought, I would probably have assumed that the band had split in acrimony and drug-induced paranoia as that is usually the way these things go. But from what I read in advance and going to see the film last night, Roky’s life post-Elevators was terrible – including a stint in a high security mental institution for possession of cannabis, where he formed a band with other inmates who were all raping murders (someone in the audience last night laughed at this part as details of their crimes were listed – whilst I could appreciate the irony, I didn’t think it was particularly funny). He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic but until fairly recently, he was living with his mother, who did not believe in the use of any kind of drugs or therapy – her reasons against therapy seemed to be based on having seen Frasier on the television.
Besides the actual film, the thing that I was intrigued by last night was who else would actually be there to see the film last night. There was a pretty good turnout – it was nearly sold out. There were lots of Nick Hornby-esque men, hair thinning, stomach spreading but squeezed into fading band t-shirt. There were also quite people on freebies, probably somehow connected to the festival who behaved (as these liggers often do) as if the even t was all about them – talking throughout, swapping seats to be next to their mates and in one case, taking their shoes off and putting them up on the empty seat next to me (yuk). Typically, I was sat next to the most psychedelic couple in there – the warm smell of patchouli oil and lager cloying but taking me back to my younger days! He was wearing a garish pink swirly shirt and had hair that was rather like mine had been until The Cut, giving me a case of hair envy. But he was obviously a real fan, and kept joining in with the songs and doing a seated dance, which annoyed his girlfriend, but I thought was quite sweet.
Anyway, the film was interesting, although sad in the way that tales of wasted talent always are. However, Roky has made some progress, is back playing live and I’m going to see him tonight. I hope it is good for his sake as much as mine!