October 2007

Roky Erickson - You’re Gonna Miss Me
Palm Pictures PALMDV 3156
Format: DVD
Released: 2007

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ***
Image Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Roky Erickson’s music, including songs he recorded as part of the legendary Texas band the 13th Floor Elevators, is well documented in I Have Always Been Here Before, a two-disc anthology released in 2005. His story, told in this compelling, heartbreaking documentary, might seem at first like the standard tale of a '60s acid casualty. In some ways it is. Roky, born Roger Kynard Erickson, suffers from a profound mental illness, diagnosed at one point as schizophrenia, which has caused him to live a life of isolation and strange obsessions. Whether Erickson’s problems stem from his drug use during the '60s or a genetic predisposition is hard to say, because You’re Gonna Miss Me gives ample evidence for both.

You’re Gonna Miss Me includes performance footage of the Elevators and of Erickson in solo performance. But the story it tells is really about the complexities of a family living with mental illness and the impact it has on them and the people around them. It’s also the story of one person’s triumph over adversity. In 2001, Sumner Erickson, Roky’s brother, was awarded custody of his brother, who was then under his mother’s care. Roky began taking medication, saw a therapist, and played music.

Extras on the DVD carry the story through to this year, five years after the movie was completed. Roky has been granted independence by the court in Austin, Texas and some of the family’s wounds have healed, in part because Sumner realizes the difficulty his mother had in taking care of his brother. Erickson’s 2001 performance at the Austin Music Festival, deleted scenes from the film, and films made by Roky’s mother give further clarification and background to this powerful story.