by Robert Wilkinson
Today, Saint Swithun's Day, is the birthday for two awesome talents, each a legend in their own way.
Linda Ronstadt needs no introduction to most of us. She's been a major talent since the 60s, when she broke into the national charts with the Michael Nesmith penned "Different Drum," and from there went on to be a huge part of inventing the "Southern California sound" with Jackson Browne, Waddy Wachtel, the Eagles, J. D. Souther, and a hundred other major talents.
She's won ten Grammys, an Emmy, and countless other awards and nominations. This "First Lady of Rock" has collaborated with too many major talents to list here, and has worked for human rights for many years. She's a truly classy lady, and has given us some great tunes over the years, so without further ado, here are a few from the magnificent Linda Ronstadt!
Linda doing the Doris Troy hit, "Just One Look"
Linda doing the Roy Orbison hit, "Blue Bayou"
Linda doing the legendary hit by the Everly Brothers, "When Will I Be Loved"
Linda doing the Cat Stevens hit, "First Cut Is The Deepest"
Linda in 1974 doing "You're No Good"
In 1977 Atlanta, Linda doing the Eagles' hit "Desperado"
We'll close this birthday celebration with Linda doing a smoking version of the Martha and the Vandellas smash hit, "Heat Wave"
We now move into a birthday tribute to my old friend from Austin, the legendary Roky Erickson. He was the screaming lead vocalist for the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, the first band to feature the word "psychedelic" on an album cover. They were the prototypical psychedelic sound created by amazing songs, guitar work, and an electric jug bass that was tuned by adding to or subtracting from the amount of weed inside of it! And all this in redneck Texas in the mid-60s!!
They made the pilgrimage to San Francisco, where they had more than a little effect on many of the bands playing around those parts. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators may have been uneven talents at times, but it was no doubt due to the radical amounts of psychedelics ingested by all the players around those times.
The Elevators, and Roky's story as well, read like epic tragedies of an era when experimentation was in, when we sang that "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You," and believed that a little rebellion against the machine would be relatively harmless, which of course it wasn't. I met him after he had been discharged from Rusk State Hospital and was still in the Austin State Hospital, and helped promote and produce a couple of his first appearances after leaving that gothic institution where Friday night movies and dances inspired such tunes as "I Waltzed (Walked) With A Zombie," "Creature With the Atom Brain," "Two Headed Dog," and other very interesting songs.
Rather than go any further into the legend here, we'll move into the videos. There's precious little live video performances of the band, and most of the Elevators' music out there are from the studio recordings set to stills. But I found a bit, so enjoy one of the most unique sounds in the history of modern music! For your enjoyment, Roky Erickson and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators!
Here's where the legend began! Rare footage of Roky and the Elevators in 1966 doing their national hit "You're Gonna Miss Me" with lots of closeups of Tommy Hall and his electric jug! Another great psychedelicized version of a lip-synched performance of "You're Gonna Miss Me"
To give you a sense of just how pioneering the Elevators' sound was, here are a few off their first two studio albums, set to pictures and the album covers:
From their first album "The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators," "Roller Coaster"“Reverberation”
Here’s a live performance by the Elevators at the Avalon Ballroom in 1966 of “Fire Engine”
Here’s a live version from the La Maison club in Houston in 1965 or 1966 of “the Kingdom of Heaven is Within You.”
The amazing poetic masterpiece from their second album "Easter Everywhere," "Slip Inside This House"
Also from "Easter Everywhere," "Earthquake"
Stacy Sutherland's composition from "Bull of the Woods," "Scarlet and Gold"
The following are all live performances set to still photos or other types of video effects:
Here’s a weird clip by the 13th Floor Elevators! This is one of the stranger versions of Chuck Berry’s classic tune plus an even stranger version of the Beatles’ “The Word.” For your enjoyment, “Roll Over Beethoven” and “The Word”
The Elevators doing Van Morrison's hit "Gloria"
Here they are doing the Kinks smash hit "You Really Got Me"
From Spring 1966, a live recording of the Elevators set to a very interesting visual doing their hit "Roller Coaster"
Here are a few from Roky post-Elevators:
From 1980, a live performance of
Here's Roky doing "Creature with the Atom Brain"
At his birthday, Roky Erickson doing "Two headed dog" & "Starry Eyes"
From his album "All That May Do My Rhyme," one of my favorite songs he's ever written, "Starry Eyes"
Here's the original Sponge EP version of "Mine Mine Mind." As the video notes explain, "this record was released in 1976 or 1977, just after Roky's release from the Texas mental institution. The demons he suffered from as a result of the inhumane treatment there were expressed in a series of recordings that were done at several smaller studios."
Here are recordings from the period when Roky was backed by the Explosives, a major Austin legend, featuring Cam King on lead, Roky on rhythm and vocals, Walter Collie on bass, and Fred Krc on drums. Here are Roky and the Explosives, from their 1980 album "Casting the Runes" doing Roky's classic "Mine Mine Mind" From the same album, here they are doing "Night Of The Vampire."
Roky and the Explosives also have a live album called "Halloween Recorded Live 1979-1981," where I found two gems! This one, "Bermuda," was recorded at the legendary Raul's in Austin (where I used to hang and promoted a few shows). And from the same album, recorded at the Whiskey in Los Angeles, I found "White Faces."
Here's "Stand For the Fire Demon," from "Demon Angel," a video done about this amazing legend. As the site says, "A Rare glimpse into the mind and music of Roky Erickson, one of American Rock's most influential and inspirational singer-songwriters. "Demon Angel" contains live performance footage shot on Halloween night, 1984 in Austin, Texas. Roky performs his songs solo on electric and acoustic guitar and in duet with guitarist/producer Mike Alvarez."
Also from 1984, a live acoustic version of "Night Of The Vampire"
Here's the album version of "Stand for the Fire Demon"
From 1993, a great live birthday performance in Austin at La Zona Rosa by Roky and the Mystic Knights of the Sea of 4 of his best!
From the same show, "Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)"
From the Paramount Theater in Austin, TX in July 2007. "Don't Shake Me Lucifer"
From December 2010, live at Rockpalast via German television, a sextet of tunes:
"Starry Eyes," followed by his Thirteenth Elevators hit "Roller Coaster." We now move into a twisted version of two of his more twisted tunes (both written about his time in a state hospital participating in "dances" with other residents of that institution), "I Walked With A Zombie" and "Two Headed Dog."We end this short set with a medley of old and new with "Reverberation" and "Don't Slander Me."
We'll close this birthday celebration for a true American legend with three from Stockholm, performed live in December 2010. For your enjoyment,
A most happy and merry to you, Linda and Roky, and may you both live to give us many more great performances. And Roky, may you find peace and prosperity after so many years of neither.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson