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on November 5, 2007
This amazingly detailed biography of the original Texas psychedelic band and its legendary singer goes a long way toward setting the record "straight" on the subject of Roky Erickson and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. The sincerity and innocence of their original concept as an LSD-driven cult of personality that was trying to "elevate" their audiences' consciousness with rock & roll music--and their tragic failure and ultimate destruction--is THE great untold story in Texas music history. There are heroes and villains here--and they are not always the ones that you might expect if you know this band's mythology. The author's research thankfully approached primary sources, and there is information here that is more reliable and detailed than has ever been collected before. The book is also blessed with a wealth of unseen photographs that are worth the price of admission in and of themselves. The only negative present here is the need for more diligent editing and fact checking in regard to Austin and Texas geography, place names and history. Austinites will cringe when the late John Henry Faulk is referred to as "John Henry Faulkner" and the J.R. Reed Music Co. is placed on "South Congress" instead of at Congress Avenue & 8th Street. Minor quibbles for sure, but the biggest gaffe is, unfortunately, on page one: The Sex Pistols DID NOT play a gig in Kerrville, TX in 1978. That show was at Randy's Rodeo in San Antonio. I know, because I was there (and still have my ticket stub to prove it).
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on October 21, 2007
Paul Drummond has done his homework and research. He spent years here in Texas and looked under every rock (I know - he found me under one.) He interviewed everyone out to third cousins. I was at first skeptical that Paul could get the job done - he's hardly a Texas cow-hippie or a denizen of the 70's drug culture. Many had gone before him - attempting to write "the story" of the Elevators - and they all came up short.

Drummond's persistence and objectivity was essential to getting this portrait of one of rock music's great innovative bands. The story of the 13th Floor Elevators is not always a pretty one but Drummond pulls no punches. I think this book put the Elevators and Roky in the context of the times and revealed them as people and not just heroic and tragic rock icons.

I am convinced that this will be the best book ever written on the subject and have to give massive thanks and praise to Drummond and his publisher for this heartfelt and scholarly work.
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on February 16, 2008
Paul Drummond's book finally delivers all the details behind the story of one of America's finest and most idiosyncratic rock bands, the 13th Floor Elevators. While the history of the Elevators has long been shrouded in mystery, Drummond's heroic research has given us interviews with nearly every major player in their story, as well as a rich supporting cast of friends, cronies and enemies. If Drummond almost tells us more than we might ever want to know about the Elevators, the musicians who comprised the group and the philosophies that drove idea man Tommy Hall, the book is a welcome corrective to the sketchy biographies of the group that have appeared in the past. A truly mind-boggling study of the intersection between rock and roll, expanded consciousness and the cultural tumult of the Sixties, this is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the 13th Floor Elevators or the times that produced them.
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on December 23, 2007
I'm really grateful to Paul Drummond for this book, at last a book on the wonderful and truly psychedelic ELEVATORS.
I highly recommended it but i have to share some of the other comments from other reviewers...some better editing would have made it just great (too many times we read "affects" when it should have been "effects"!)
Personally I feel a bit more care should have been taken with some details...on page 135 The Yardbirds appear with "Shapes of Things to come" supposedly with Gregorian-chant backing vocals...I know, I know it's a book on the Elevators but I'm sure most people reading it will notice the double mistake...if not ask Roky!
In any case DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK under any circumstances!!!
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on June 2, 2008
One of the BEST music biographies ever written that tells the story of a decade in American music history with all of the uncensored truths intact. This book is overflowing with all of the explanations, descriptions, and details about which everyone has wondered for almost a half-century. This is a valuable source for those who are just starting down the road as well as answering some questions about unfinished business for those who experienced it. The research for this book rivals scientific methods of verification. One review called it "rock archeology". If you want to learn about the psychedelic era and the band that paved the way for the Beatles' "Lonely Hearts Club" and the Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow", then this is a must read. Not only does it tell about the music of the 13th Floor Elevators but it also "gets it" when explaining the philosophies of the Hippie Generation. This is more than a biography. It is a history book and a legend told in an honest and unbiased way. Paul Drummond outdid himself on this effort. Thumbs up.
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on July 27, 2008
This is without a doubt the best, most well researched rock biography I've ever read. True, the author may have trouble distinguishing between 'affect' and 'effect,' and he may have got a few details about life in Texas circa 1965 wrong, but he truly delivers the goods that all of us Roky/Elevators fans have been waiting to hear for a very long time. He's great on details, and attentive to historical and cultural context. As far as I can see, he's tracked down every surviving member of the band (including Tommy Hall!), and pieced the whole story together in meticulous detail, 1965 to 1968. It doesn't get better than this. All the information (Tommy) you could want, combined with emotion (Roky) required for a spell-binding read. This book lives in a time of its own!
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on June 17, 2011
I can overlook minor defects in a book if I feel that the author is truly passionate about the subject. Rock biographies run the gamut from inspired passion all the way down to, for example, Stephen Gaines' Beach Boys bio, Heroes and Villains, which comes off as a piece of hack work by someone who seems to have little or no interest in the group, and filled with misspelled proper names. When a true fan such as David Leaf or Brad Elliott tackles the subject, we may not get a perfect result, but the reader comes away understanding why the band was so important.
My only complaint with this book on the 13th Floor Elevators is that it lacks a good proofreader, so we get some embarassing mistakes, such as "affect" and "effect" used incorrectly, or such misspellings as "road grater" for "road grader," and one of my pet peeves, "try and" in place of "try to." (What's the past tense of try and? I tried and go home?) And the Book of Revelation has no "s" on the end; it's sometimes misspelled here.
But those are such minor quibbles compared to the wealth of detail and information Paul Drummond unearthed for this book. I went into it completely baffled by the muddy recordings, wondering for example what that "jug" is all about, and now I listen to their tracks knowing so much more about each player's role in their sound. Mr. Drummond is obviously the right man for the job, with his passion and willingness to get the story. I don't know whether he was already interested in all of the mystical obsessions of Tommy Hall, or had to go to all that trouble to decipher it, but that alone must've taken a lot of commitment on his part to wade through all of that, well, whatever one makes of it. (The author is also highly involved in the wonderful recent series of CD reissues.)
The story itself is terribly tragic, with a band who was undone by being so far ahead of the curve; they peaked too soon to be grabbed up in the wave of major labels signing psychedelic bands, they had an inexperienced and incompetent label that botched their career, and got into the drug thing before its negative repercussions were well known, resulting in all manner of self-destructive behavior. And tragically, the poorly mixed album masters can never be redone, as the original multi-track tapes are gone. We only experience their brilliance through a muddy filter. (Unless the question is answered in the last few pages I haven't yet read, I'd like to know exactly what happened to those tapes; are they truly lost forever?)
I can't recommend this book highly enough, as it could only be slightly improved with a little proofreading. It's a story that has been long overdue.
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on October 13, 2007
You're Gonna Miss Me : A Film About Roky Erickson

This book lifts the veil off the history of THE THIRTEEN FLOOR EVELATORS. Within this tome is given a lot of detail to the band and the members and to Tommy Hall and Roky Erickson. Roky Erickson has one of the most interesting voices in rock, from an angelic cry to a Satanic scream. Tommy Hall was one of the most ill informed users of LSD --he thought it should be taken whenever and while the band was playing.

Most of the story of this band has been given over to rumor, hearsay and bad copies of the available recordings. Mismanagement prevailed with the band, signing up to one of the more inept record companies in the USA. Texas Police Officers thought they should be busted and frequently arrested them and planted evidence. When they gained a reputation in San Francisco, band members moved back to the Austin area. No one did the right things to help the band. The band members felt helpless as well.

Even making two albums did not help the band, because the record company they worked with had no idea about promoting the group. The band memnbers were sleeping on other people's couches, borrowing money and living off soup and promises.

And Tommy Hall's ideas of promoting human evolution.He read deeply in Guerdjieff, occult literature, Korzybsky, and esoteric ideas. All twenty year olds know what to do, especially those who take lots of LSD. Roky Erickson became strung out and fractured.

Arrests were made, people were imprisoned, Roky opted for a mental instiution. Electroshock. With small bits like this surfacing and the impressions of concerts long gone (and never recorded), four impressive albums marred by bad sound quality. One band member murdered...all these bits and stories and evidence created a larger fable.

And Roky. Came out of a mental institution to record albums much stranger than most could imagine, dealing with two headed dogs, creatures with atom brains, and images from 1950's and 60's horror films. An Acid casualty if there ever was one. The voice is there, the playing is there, the energy intact. But he's helpless as a human being without a guitar in his hand (that can be seen in the DVD documentry YOU'RE GONNA MISS ME).

The book's attention to detail often smothers a great story. There are a lot of opinions given that don't deal with the stories of the band, but facet a memory of times gone by. But I'd still plow through a book twice as thick as this just to pick up the story that has long fascinated me. Not too much about Roky in times closer to now. Not too much of later recordings and not too much of Tommy Hall saying anything like "I could have been wrong, you know."

A good post script somewhere might be nice.
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on March 27, 2008
This is a crucial book for anyone who's a fan of the 13th Floor Elevators or the American psychedelic music scene in the 60's. Drummond really did his homework and the level of detail is amazing. The book reads well, it's entertaining and ultimately a fascinating story of artistic struggle.
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on November 12, 2007
The genius of this band has alway amazed me. The lyrics of Slip Inside This House is poetry in motion. I've been looking for this book for two decades. I alway wanted to know more about this band that I came across in my youth and wondered why I was attracted to the ideas of Gurdjieff.
This is a story of the search for enlightenment and not fame. Their music has been an inspirtation for many in finding meaning out of life. But as Alan Watts said "taking psychedlics was a sign pointing in definate direction but taking it again was like jumping on the sign."
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