Music / The 13th Floor Elevators

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The 13th Floor Elevators were a band from Austin, Texas, who served as one of the Trope Codifiers and the Trope Namer for the genre of Psychedelic Rock back in The '60s.

The band was formed in 1966, centered around guitarist/vocalist Roky Erickson, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and electric jug player Tommy Hall (both of whom performed backing vocals), with a variety of drummers and bassists coming and going for the duration of their short career.

The band were fervently dedicated to the idea of psychedelia and expanding the boundaries of the mind, religiously advocating use of hallucinogenics in their lyrics and sleeve notes, and becoming (probably) the first band to release an album with "psychedelic" in the title. According to legend, Hall's jug was tuned by the amount of marijuana stored in it.

They released two albums in close succession, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators and Easter Everywhere. The first one yielded their only successful single and arguable Signature Song, "You're Gonna Miss Me". However, the band disintegrated after they got busted by the Texas authorities for possession of drugs - Stacy went to prison, while Roky misguidedly pleaded insanity and landed in a state hospital for the criminally insane until 1973, and has struggled with mental issues ever since. Stacy was accidentally shot by his wife in 1978, while Tommy became a devout follower of Scientology in the same decade.

They've been really influential on the Psychedelic Rock and Alternative Rock movement.

Erickson maintains a strong cult following and is considered an Austin icon on par with Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughn despite not coming near either man's level of success. His solo career is highly influential in the Horror Rock genre, and counts members of bands like ZZ Top and R.E.M. as fans.

Discography:
  • The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
  • Easter Everywhere (1967)
  • Live (1968) - actually an album of studio outtakes with overdubbed applause and crowd noise, put out by their record label for some quick cash
  • Bull of the Woods (1969) - released after the band's collapse

Tropes used by the 13th Floor Elevators:

  • Bedlam House: The hospital Roky landed in and got treated with electroshock therapy.
  • Break-Up Song: "You're Gonna Miss Me"
  • Careful with That Axe + Metal Scream: Roky gained fame largely because of his distinctive wild screaming.
  • Cover Version: "You Don't Know How Young You Are" by Powell St. John, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" by Bob Dylan, "Before You Accuse Me" by Bo Diddley, "I'm Gonna Love You Too" by Buddy Holly and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" by Solomon Burke.
  • Drugs Are Good the liner notes for "The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators" feature a text promoting the use of LSD and other psychedelics for mind expansion
  • Epic Rocking: The eight-minute "Slip Inside This House".
  • Non-Appearing Title: "I Had to Tell You".
  • Psychedelic Rock
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: For a band who made their reputation for riff-driven freakouts like "You're Gonna Miss Me", lovely ballads like "Splash 1 (Now I'm Home)", "I Had to Tell You" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (among others) can come as a surprise.
  • The Svengali: Tommy Hall very much acted as this to his bandmates. He evidently saw the band as a vehicle to cultivate a following as a psychedelic guru.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "You're Gonna Miss Me", "Reverberation (Doubt)", "(I've Got) Levitation".
  • Watch It Stoned: Their entire philosophy.
  • Word Salad Lyrics "Slip Inside This House" in particular

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