Roky Erickson, front man of the 13th Floor Elevators and Texan psychedelic pioneer, has died. He was 71. Erickson’s performing career was cut short by mental-health struggles, but his impact on rock is immeasurable. Patti Smith, the White Stripes, ZZ Top, and R.E.M. all cited him as an influence. “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was the 13th Floor Elevators’ biggest hit, which even found its way into the movie High Fidelity. The Elevators broke up in 1969, around the time when Erickson began exhibiting symptoms of paranoia. That same year, according to Rolling Stone, he was arrested for possession of one joint and institutionalized for three years. While in the hospital, he was tranquilized with Thorazine and subjected to electroconvulsive therapy.
After his institutionalization, Erickson continued to make music and perform sporadically. He struggled with mental illness and the after-effects of his hospital years. In 1981, he released a solo record of horror-movie-inspired songs called The Evil One. The album was beloved by the Cramps’ Lux Interior and Poison Ivy. Erickson’s final album came out in 2010, backed by Okkervil River. “Roky Erickson was the most beautifully unique person I’ve ever known and perhaps the most brilliant. He changed my understanding of how both music and the world work and he rekindled my faith in both,” wrote Okkervil River’s Will Sheff on Instagram. “The time I got to spend with him is one of the greatest gifts I got out of music. There’ll never be another like him and we’ll all miss him forever.”