As Roky Erickson Preps Brand-New Album, a Federal Lawsuit Over His First Solo Record

As Pete mentioned a few weeks back, Roky Erickson's got a brand-new album forthcoming -- True Love Cast Out All Evil, due in April and featuring as his backing band Okkervil River. Hard to keep track of Roky's comebacks at this late date, but this one appears ready to stick -- thank God. And yet, the more things change ...

As I wrote back in '95, few musicians have had their work as exploited as the father of psychedelic rock; for every one official release on his discography, there are dozens of sketchy "imports" that various attorneys and caretakers have spent years attempting to erase from the back catalog. Erickson, whose return to sanity was documented by my old friend Keven McAlester in his must-see doc You're Gonna Miss Me, was taken advantage of for years -- most often by his mother, who would sell his works to scoundrels for pennies on the dollar to make a little money to support herself and her son during the worst of times.

Allegations of exploitation continue to this day: Last week in U.S. District Court in Northern California, attorneys filed suit against the label Sympathy for the Record Industry, claiming it has no right to distribute or profit from Erickson's critically acclaimed solo debut The Evil One, released initially in 1981 on the CBS Records subsidiary 415 and, over time, also available on Restless Records. The suit says, simply, that the man who paid for the recordings way back when (Craig Luckin, then Roky's manager) did indeed license them to Sympathy's owner, John Mermis, who's yet to account for a penny of sales. Allege Roky's attorneys, they don't call him Long Gone John for nothing.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky