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True Love Cast Out All Evil: The Songwriting Legacy of Roky Erickson will be released in November through Texas A&M University Press. The following is iconic alt-country singer-songwriter Scott H. Biram’s thoughts on the legendary psychedelic rock pioneer from the book:
“Roky played Antone's with the Sexton brothers backing him one night when I was twenty years old,” Biram says. “Roky's mom was there and read some weird poetry. The Sextons kept playing the intro to ‘Two-Headed Dog’ over and over, and Roky had his arms crossed until Charlie and Will started getting mad from playing that intro over and over again. The show was free to get in, but you got a little door prize if you donated the suggested three dollars.
“I did and got measuring cups. I had Roky sign them. Roky had big dreadlocks on the back of his head. He was looking pretty rough. ‘Roky,’ I said, ‘will you sign this?’ His handler said, ‘Sign whatever you want, Roky.’ He said, ‘What the hell's this?’ I said, ‘It's a door prize.’ Roky wrote R-A-Y in all caps. I don't think he knew what that meant either.
“I had been listening to him for a couple years by then since I discovered that The Pyramid Meets the Eye tribute album. I particularly liked ‘Stand for the Fire Demon.’ His voice really hooked me in my twenties. I loved the Aliens' The Evil Ones, which is all classic rock-sounding with production like the Cars. His vocals sounded gravelly like Bob Seger.
I liked his vocal styling, but I also liked the way he rambled lines together. He would reel syllables off real fast even though there wasn't necessarily enough room for all them. He would fit the words in anyway and ramble them off at the end. I also tend to say words anyway if I have an idea I want to fit even though they don't in my song.
“I played with Roky one Halloween and again on his seventieth birthday when I got to sit in on two or three songs, which was pretty cool. I didn't know what to do. I'm a one-man band and don't know how to play along with anyone, but it was a huge honor. We were upstairs where the show was, and I was standing there with Rok. They had a two-headed dog cake for his seventieth birthday. I said, ‘That's a pretty cool cake, Rok.’ He said, ‘Yep.’ ‘I don't know if you can eat that it's so pretty.’
“Roky's definitely been an influence on me. I have other influences, but he's one I have really held close to my heart. I think he was an angel put on earth. I know he sang about evil and all, but you can hear his heart coming out when he sings. He's a wonderful singer and was into sci-fi and horror movies, which isn't any different than the early Misfits. All those songs and titles were about singing about old B-horror movies. Going back to that rambling thing, that's been a big influence.
“I was thinking of that last night as if I was giving advice to someone to not completely adhere to form as much as feeling and getting your idea out. It makes the music itself have to change and have extra parts when you don't adhere to the form and you put in extra stuff, which makes the songs more unique and less stagnant.”
– Brian T. Atkinson
Artist: Jason Eady
Current city: Fort Worth, Texas
Album: To the Passage of Time
Release Date: August 27, 2021
Record Label: independent
Artist Website: jasoneady.com
On writing the album: “I went in thinking I was going to write just one song, but then the songs kept coming. I didn’t want to break the spell. I would go to sleep with the guitar by the bed, pick it back up when I woke up the next morning and do it all over again. I have never experienced anything like that before.” – Jason Eady
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