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The originators of psychedlic music and their mindblowing lifestyle
on 28 January 2008
LSD and DMT were legal, mescaline grew freely in the form of peyote all over Texas, in the years after Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, then the pioneers of the drug culture inevitably found musicians to reflect these experiences. This laid the foundation in 65 directly for Janis & Big Brother, whose style unashamedly copies the Elevators. This is a music that began in Austin, Texas.
Repressed by the McCartheyist authorities and suppressed by inept management they escaped and became the headline band in Frisco in 66, the year before it all happened there, supported by Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service et al. If only they'd played Monterey! They went back to Texas that winter and, due to bail restrictions, could not return West after their busts. You're not paranoid when the system really is out to get you and they were after the Elevators big time! It didn't help that Tommy was half protecting and half posessing Roky with his incessant "let's drop acid and do music" dogma. That was partly responsible for their genius and partly for their problems. But then, Stacey and Roky's contribution\inadequacies, were equally responsible for that genius\problems conflict - acid casualties three.
Their management failed to do justice to their innovative psychedelic creations with poorly mastered lo-fi recordings. You can get an idea of what they were doing but it hardly does them justice. This is the story of what could have been but for conspiracies, halucinogens, institutionalisation, busts, repression, ineptitude, poor timing and apathy. This was the seed and root of Frisco music which emerged and blossomed on the more liberal West Coast. Without the Elevators it wouldn't have happened. This is the story of that embryonic evolution and how it impacted by osmosis on the bands they touched and sold their drug doctrine to.
Read this book. It is probably a better guide than their CDs to just how huge an influence they were and how to snatch failure from the jaws of success. The aftermath and years since are a Greek tragedy of (arguably self-inflicted) misfortune and psychiatric meanderings. A great recording is Roky's compilation "Even Gremlins have Pictures" but not representative of the Elevator's seminal early years. Roky is surely Texas's version of Syd Barrett. Had they been based in England or LA they would have been enormous but then, where would they have found all that peyote?