Saturday, December 31, 2011

Psychedelic Pioneers: The 13th Floor Elevators

13th Floor Elevators   13th Floor Elevators

 The first group to advertise themselves as psychedelic rock were the 13th Floor Elevators from Texas, at the end of 1965. They produced an album that made their direction clear, with The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators the following year. Electric jug player, Tommy Hall's sleeve-notes for the album, which advocated chemical agents (such as LSD) as a gateway to a higher, 'non-Aristotelian' state of consciousness, has also contributed to the album's legendary status.

From Austin, Texas the 13th Floor Elevators line-up was built around singer/guitarist Roky Erickson, electric jug player Tommy Hall, and guitarist Stacy Sutherland. The rhythm section went through several changes, with drummer John Ike Walton and bass player Ronnie Leatherman being the longest permanent members. Hall was the band's primary lyricist and philosopher, with Sutherland and Erickson both contributing lyrics as well as writing and arranging the group's music. Along with Erickson's powerful vocals, Hall's "electric jug" became the band's signature sound in the early days. During their career, the band released four LPs and seven 45s for the International Artists record label.

The band's name was developed from a suggestion by drummer John Ike Walton to use the name "Elevators" and Clementine Hall added "13th Floor". The letter "M" (for marijuana) is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet and a number of tall buildings don't have a 13th floor.
 As one of the first psychedelic bands, their contemporary influence has been acknowledged by 1960s musicians such as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Peter Albin of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Chris Gerniottis of Zakary Thaks. Their debut 45 "You're Gonna Miss Me", a national Billboard #55 hit in 1966, was featured on the 1972 compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968, which is considered vital in the history of garage rock and the development of punk rock.

Drummer John Walton left the band, due not only to disputes over mismanagement of the band's career by International Artists, but also due to a fundamental disagreement between Walton and Tommy Hall over the latter's overzealous advocacy of the use of LSD in the pursuit of achieving a higher state of human consciousness.
An 'obituary' in Rolling Stone magazine in December 1968 declared the band gone.
Their last concert featuring the 'real' Elevators occurred in April 1968.

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