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Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Story of the Roky CD Club (a Taste)

I have announced on the 13th Floor Elevators / Roky Erickson Facebook Group that I am writing my "Memoirs" of the Roky CD Club. I have been doing that and right now, am at about 29, typed, pages. This is going to be a 40+ page tome when I get finished.

When that happens, I will publish it on the blog and load it into the Facebook group's Files as a white paper.

I am telling the whole story here! Everybody is getting named for both the good and the bad.

All of you assholes, Billy Alienate, Paul Douchebag, Sumnerd, Jigger, Mikasshole all o' you! I know that you love threatening to sue people. Make my day! I need more stuff to post on the blog! I need a big laugh! I need more ass-wiping papers!

I am going to publish the whole thing before long but I just wanted to give my readers a "taste". See:

After seventeen years, I have decided to write my, no-holds-barred, account of the humble beginnings and running of the Roky CD Club. Everything is truthful to the best of my recollection.My name is Kiloh Smith, I guess my start in this was when I began collecting and trading bootleg tapes back in the late Seventies.

People used to have typed up "lists" of what they had in their collections. One would type it up and then Xerox copies of it. One would write in additions and corrections until the scribble required typing up a new list or at least "additions" pages.In the classified sections of magazines like Relix, Goldmine, DISCoveries and more were ads from other Tape Traders looking for new partners. 

You would contact people out of the backs of these magazines and then arrange to exchange lists. Then you would agree to use a specific type of cassette tape in the trade. I always required the highest quality Maxell, TDK or Sony chromium dioxide tapes. When metal particle, chromium dioxide, hit the market, I required that. Then, you and your partner picked tapes from each others' collections (usually 10) and you would make them up for each other and mail them out.

The late Seventies, all of the Eighties, the early Nineties were a blur of this activity and I had amassed a collection of several thousand tapes. Since the mid-Eighties, I had been diligently collecting Roky Erickson recordings and so had many, many that I enjoyed. I would make copies of them, on lesser quality chrome blanks, and use those to listen to in my car and Walkman; the original tape stayed in my home.

So, I was a tape trading fool. I had also purchased an expensive stereo to listen to everything on with a 500 watt Soundcraftsman amp and top-of-the-line Caver Pre-Amp with build in Sonic Hologram. I also purchased four, West-German, 500 watt continuous output speakers. Today, I still have this backbone of my system and it has never let me down. I recently added a Nakamichi cassette deck to the mix. For CD's I run an inexpensive DVR/CD player and replace it every few years.

In 1991, at graduate school, I was introduced to BBS (Bulletin Board Service) boards on the Internet. This was still when everything was DOS commands on a keyboard. These BBS boards were academic related. BBS was the first "social networking" on the Internet. The backbone of this was USENET which morphed into Google Groups years later.

In 1994, I was shown a Pink Floyd BBS board that my friend was working with. He advertised WPDH-FM, Poughkeepsie, NY on there and scored free Pink Floyd tickets at Yankee Stadium (6th row center) and he took me down with him on the WPDH Party Bus and we rocked out. This was when I first saw the power of the Internet; getting free tickets to Pink Floyd and a ride to the show.

In the Spring of 1998, I was working with a client, in Ithaca, New York and I stumbled upon the new eGroups which was the next generation of online groups from the old BBS boards. E-Groups was the first modern social networking platform and I still think that some of their features are the best. There was a discussion board, a searchable Archive of posts, places to Archive links and files, more...

I started a "Roky Erickson" e-group and began visiting BBS boards and inviting people in. I also went to the comments section of certain websites and left a comment about the group or collected emails to send a message to. Very quickly, within a few days, there were almost one hundred Members including Steve Czapla, Danny Thomas of the 13th Floor Elevators, the late, great Doug Walden of the group Christopher and more.

People began telling their friends about the group and it mushroomed even quicker. See... This was the first such group on the internet and, I got the feeling, that people were grateful for a place to gather and communicate about this subject.

Other people joined the group including "Billy Alienate", from Roky's group - the Aliens, and Roky's former Manager - "Craig Lurkin". There was Keven McAlester who announced that he was working on a documentary about Roky. There was an Englishman named Paul Dickhead who said that he was working on a book. Some guy who called himself The Lama but whose real name was Patrick Lundborg. Everybody got along.

This was the days of burning and trading CDs; there was no bit torrent but people used the lossless technology when making the CDs. I began thinking that it would be nice to convert some of my Roky cassette tapes to CD and share them with the fans. And *that* was the kernel of what became the "Roky CD Club" was all about: sharing.

This was right in the middle of one of Roky's darkest hours (1998). Everybody was taking advantage of Roky who was living on Social Security Disability in a rented room off the highway. There was the two crooks Billy Alienate and Craig Lurkin. Lurkin was Roky's former "Manager" and had the whole Roky Solo Catalog's Rights sewn up into farce contracts.

Billy Alienate was a loser who had played some horrible sounds, off some homemade instrument, during Roky's early solo career. But, basically, he was Lurkin's apologist and professional butt sniffer. Billy hadn't had any success in life since being associated with Roky and therefore glommed on to his brief flirtation with fame years later.

Roky had a Pro Bono Attorney, named Rick Triplett, who was challenging these sham contracts that claimed "ownership" of Roky's songs. As there was a legal dispute over the rights (who gets paid), all of the income generated from the sale of any Roky Erickson solo music was seized and put into an escrow account for dispersal after the dispute was settled. Basically, the monies were seized by the Court and held until the true "Owner" of this material could be determined.

Billy Alienate and Lurkin both had jobs; they could afford to wait until the court determined an outcome. Poor Roky was unable to perform and living on Social Security Disability with a mouth full of rotten teeth. It is my belief that "waiting" was the strategy of Alienate and Lurkin. They would wait until Roky couldn't stand it anymore and then push for a favorable settlement. 

Additionally, at this time, there was a flood of sketchy, bootleg quality, Roky solo albums coming out. It was the Wild West for the bootleggers with the two Principals locked in a legal battle and fans hungry for product. Things didn't need to be a "million seller" for these folks. All they had to do was press 1,000 copies of some live recording and sell them through the independent record stores.

Is the reader kinda getting a picture here? It was an absolute mess and there was starting to be coverage about Roky's plight. Additionally, Roky wasn't popular like he is today. One had to really digest a lot of other music before getting to Roky Erickson.

It was "fringe" music and music for record geeks. Now, I know that might not be entirely true but let's just leave it with Roky was much, much, much less well known, back in the Nineties, than he is today. In fact, the Roky CD Club started fanning the flames of awareness for Roky, in a big way, shortly after it was started.

So, I came up with the wonderful idea to take some of my Roky bootlegs and rip them to CD to share with the fans. Immediately, I thought about the implications of this and DID NOT want to be accused of ripping Roky Erickson off. I contacted Rick Triplett and told him about the group and went over my idea for sharing the music. Rick immediately said: "What does Roky get out of this?"

This was the moment when we thought up the idea of a "gift" for the music. It couldn't be called a "payment" or "percentage" or anything like that because it would have been seized and put into that escrow account for future distribution to the "winner" of the legal dispute.

We wanted Roky to have the money NOW and so it was called a "gift". Additionally, as we were exchanging the CDs for free and paying the gift of our own volition, this meant that our activity fell under the "Fair Usage" of Federal Copyright Law.

The idea was to set up "branches" that got the master recording in lossless format from the "tree". These branches would then make copies of the recording for the leaves and collect the gift from them and forward the gift monies to the tree who then sent it onto Rick Triplett. 

Rick Triplett would distribute the cash to Roky on an "as needed" basis.Thos who want to read more about this can reference this 2003 Austin Chronicle article about this exact group and activity:

http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2003-10-03/180099

The first Roky CD Club title was this one below:

ROKY ERICKSON CD CLUB - RELEASE #1
Roky Erickson and The Explosives - 9/25/81 Berkeley, California (from soundboard cassette, 2nd generation)

1. Cold Night For Alligators 
2. Bermuda  
3. The Wind And More  
4. Starry Eyes   
5. You're Gonna Miss Me   
6. The Beast   
7. Heroin   
8. White Faces   
9. Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)   
10. Don't Shake Me Lucifer   
11. Bloody Hammer

3 songs from a CDR called Spanning Your Theoryelectric demos, just Roky and electric guitar @1975   

12. Cold Night For Alligators   
13. Starry Eyes   
14. White Faces. 

This was a huge hit and we raised about $600.00 for Roky utilizing a $2.00 per CD gift. It also attracted the attention of other fans with knowledge and recordings.

The second Roky CD Club Title was this an "alternate mix" of the Psychedelic Sounds LP. We just assembled some outtakes and alternate mixes into the running order of the LP, For good measure, we added in some Houston Demos and other stray tracks. This was an even bigger hit than the first CD and helped raise even more money for Roky that was sent to Rick Triplett.

After that, the Roky CD Club was off to the races and making and distributing CDs, Graphic Artists stepped forward and began producing insert art for the CDs. Everybody was happy! Rick called the money Roky's "cigarette and cheeseburger" money. Mrs. Erickson wrote us letters thanking us for keeping her son's name alive.

ROKY ERICKSON CD CLUB - RELEASE #2
"Psychedelic Sounds Alternate Mix"

The 13th Floor Elevators Psychedelic Sounds Alternate Mix from the "Psychedelic Sounds" sessions,10/66 Summit Sound Studio, Dallas, Texas, unless noted:   

1. You're Gonna Miss Me (Contact 45 sessions outtake, Andrus Studios, 1/66)   
2. Roller Coaster (alternate mix)   
3. Splash One (Now I'm Home) (Houston demos 6/66)   
4. Reverberation (Doubt) (official take)   
5. Don't Fall Down (alternate mix)   
6. Fire Engine (alternate mix)   
7. Thru The Rhythm (alternate mix)   
8. You Don't Know (alternate mix)   
9. Monkey Island (alternate mix)   
10. Tried To Hide 

(Contact 45 sessions outtake)6/66 Houston Demos, Gold Star Studios:   

11. You Gotta Take That Girl   
12. Before You Accuse Me   
13. You Can't Hurt Me Anymore9/67 

"Easter Everywhere" Sessions, Walt Andrus Studios, Houston, Texas:   

14. Dust (alternate mix)   
15. Splash One (Now I'm Home) (acoustic, session uncertain)   
16. Right Track Now (session uncertain)

3/68 "Beauty And The Beast" sessions,IA (formerly Gold Star) Studios, Houston, Texas:   

17. Livin' On (Gold Star acetate)   
18. I Don't Ever Want To Come Down (Gold Star acetate)   
19. Never Another (official take)   
20. Wait For My Love   
21. Dear Dr. Doom (official take)   
22. Fire In My Bones (session uncertain)   
23. May The Circle Remain Unbroken (official take) 

Notes:This release reproduces the running order of the original LP using alternate takes. The sound is much better than on the Collectables or Decal releases; the songs were run through sound restoration software with impressive results.

Kingdom of Heaven had to be omitted because there is no alternate or improved mix available. Following that are three songs from the Houston Demos sessions that are available here without the canned audience sounds added on the "Live" album then comes the only known alternate mix from the "Easter Everywhere" sessions, a great version of "Dust," followed by two Roky and Clementine Hall duets that may be from this session also. 

Following that are the 7 songs that are known to have been recorded for the never completed "Beauty And The Beast" LP. Three of these songs are familiar versions that appeared on the "Bull Of The Woods" LP, but all 7 are put together to get an idea of what "Beauty And The Beast" would have been like. Tracks 17,18 date from the Spring 1968 Beauty And The Beast sessions. There is a single existing copy of this 10" acetate. It was discovered at the former Gold Star Studios in the mid-1980's and was sold in a Goldmine magazine auction to a private collector in 1985. This acetate was the source of the previously lost/forgotten song I Don't Ever Want To Come Down which was first released on the Elevator Tracks LP in 1987.

Of course, I shared on the group (the original Roky Erickson Yahoogroup) all about our success. This fell under the scrutiny of Billy Alienate and Craig Lurkin. I'd like it known that these two are the ORIGINAL shitbags ripping Roky Erickson off. As the Reader will remember from above, Lurkin had Roky's solo Publishing Rights tied up into sham contracts that were now being challenged by Rick Triplett. 

All monies from the sale of Roky's recordings were going into an escrow account.But here we were talking about sharing CDs and producing artwork and paying Roky! Because this was the "gift" idea, and was protected under the "Free Usage" Clause of United States Copyright Law, there was nothing that Billy and Lurkin could do.

Billy and Lurkin have this whole "alternate reality" going where they tell people that they weren't ripping Roky off but were "helping" him. The fact of the matter is that Craig Lurkin was NAMED in the Lawsuit by the (then) Roky Erickson Trust for signing Roky to sham contracts (stealing rights) and refusing to honor the Royalty payment clause of all of those contracts.

Basically, Lurkin wasn't paying Roky a dime; not even royalties on sales of product. That's the truth of it. Billy? Billy was just hanging on for the ride and had no stake in anything. It was the past afterglow of his moment in the sun and he was milking it for all that he could. 

Rick and I came up with the idea to claim on the group that the Roky CD Club was taking in "thousands" every issue. This was meant to be information to "bug" Billy and Lurkin because Rick really couldn't stand those two. So I began putting this disinformation out on the group about the "thousands" being taken in by the Roky CD Club.

Apparently, now Roky was no longer living on just social security disability but actually had an income coming in from CDs. So it was hundreds instead of "thousands" but Rick told me that the Roky CD Club was the first time, in his life, that Roky Erickson was being paid for his recorded music!

Anyway, Billy began emailing me about "Craig" "owning" the recordings that we were distributing for free. Additionally, "Craig" "Owned" the songs on them too. See… Lurkin didn't talk to anybody; he spoke "through" Billy Alienate. And Billy reveled in his importance! It was like: "Craig wants *this*", "Craig likes *that*", Craig would like to see the *other thing* done differently".

That's all for now, more later...


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