Release date:June 8, 2007
Starring:Roky Erickson, Evelyn Erickson, Sumner Erickson, Roger Kynard Erickson
Outside Austin, Texas, a 53-year-old man sits in an apartment with four radios, three televisions, two amps, a radio scanner, and a casio electric piano playing. At the same time. Loudly. He has three teeth, his hair is matted into one huge dreadlock, and he has a notarized document on his wall declaring himself an alien, "so whoever's putting shocks to my head will stop." Thirty years earlier, Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson was a rock-and-roll icon: A manic white-blues singer who was Janis Joplin's primary influence, he fronted a band called the 13th Floor Elevators, considered by many to be the creators of psychedelic music. After a 1969 marijuana arrest, Erickson entered an insanity plea and was sent to the Rusk State Hospital, a medieval institution deep in the east Texas pineforests. He remained there for three years with the state's most violent mentally ill offenders, then reemerged a changed man: He sang about ghouls, zombies, and Satan, christened himself "the evil one," and declared himself an alien. At some point he stopped recording altogether and disappeared: "the great lost vocalist of rock and roll." For the past 12 years, Erickson has lived as a total recluse, shut in with his white noise and watching cartoons all day. He collects junk-mail by the stack. He only opens the door for his mother, Evelyn. Evelyn spends her days in their crumbling family home, abandoned by her other four sons and husband, doing yoga and reimagining her life through homemade films and "storyboards"--large planks of cardboard onto which she's pasted family photos and written out the story of their lives, "to convince myself that I'd been a good mother." Through them, she slowly charts the disintegration of their family. Her youngest son Sumner, the only family member to have escaped, has not returned home in ten years. He hears of his brother's situation and vows to persuade his mother to cede control of Roky in a "crusade to give his brother his life and music back." Upon his arrival, Roky and Evelyn's insular world slowly unravels.