True Love Cast Out All Evil: The Songwriting Legacy of Roky Erickson

Article Contributed by conqueroo | Published on Thursday, September 16, 2021

True Love Cast Out All Evil: The Songwriting Legacy of Roky Erickson is due out November 15, 2021 through Texas A&M University Press. “Roky was one of Texas’ most original and unique singer-songwriters,” author Brian T. Atkinson says. “His short time fronting the psychedelic rock pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators in the ’60s made him a cult legend, but his 50-year solo career that followed was barely noticed. Hopefully, this book will shine a light on that important and influential time in Texas music.” This is Atkinson’s fifth book with TAMU Press following volumes on Erickson’s fellow icons Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Mickey Newbury.  
In True Love Cast Out All Evil, more than 70 friends including Henry Rollins, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Stu Cook and Butthole Surfers’ King Coffey, as well as disciples such as the Meat Puppets' Cris Kirkwood, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, the Black Angels’ Alex Maas and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff testify. “Roky's voice was undeniable,” Coffey says. “He screamed and yelled like great Texas blues singers — freaky, rocking, weird. Roky was a visionary singer and songwriter.” “Roky Erickson opened the door,” echoes legendary outlaw country singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard. “He showed the way. Bands today still strive for what he brought.”
Erickson simply sang like serpents shaded his shadows. After all, the mystical and mythical Austin-based singer-songwriter and psychedelic-drug enthusiast delivered from deepest depths. However, his “transcendence came with a price,” Atkinson writes in the book’s introduction. Through interviews with those who were there and presentation of Erickson’s own words, Atkinson chronicles how Erickson was haunted for most of his life by mental illness, likely compounded by his liberal use of hallucinogens. His influence on Texas musicians throughout several genres with high watermark albums such as The Evil One and Don’t Slander Me remains vast, nonetheless. “Roky stands alone to this day,” ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons says in his foreword. “He was out and out one of the wildest rock singers. Roky is revered.”