Check out my article on Roky Erickson and his band of murderous mental patients over on Niche Appeal or read below.
The Official Most Fucked Up Band Of All Time: Roky Erickson & The Missing Links
If asked to name the most dangerous, depraved, socially maladjusted band of all time, most nerds will inevitably point right to everyone’s favorite ancient-church-torching, bandmate-murdering gaggle of Norwegian Viking wannabes: Mayhem. Others will mention the black magic dabbling, statutory rape enthusiasts known as Led Zeppelin. Even though they were basically just white trash dudes in makeup who liked strippers and heroin, the Motley Boys get thrown out there a lot for sheer rock depravity alone. Of course there are numerous fringe bands much further off the pop cult radar that are/were far more glaringly dangerous than any of the popular faves, for example the thousands of white power bands advocating race war, the National Socialist Black Metal movement, The Midnight NAMBLA Band, The Foo Fighters*, and a whole host of groups whose individual members have been accused, convicted, and confessed to a truly far out bevvy of unspeakable crimes against humanity.
It’s an argument that’s been played out many hundreds of thousands of times on message boards and in bars, record stores, and parents’ basements the world over:
“Dude, it doesn’t get more fucked up than Skrewdriver.”
“Please, haven’t you ever heard of Emperor? The drummer stabbed…”
“He killed, like, one person! The guy from the Lostprophets molested 98 children! Mic drop!”
“What? You’ve never heard the Manson Family album? There’s actually good songs on it.”
“Yea but the guy from Gorgoroth tortures people in his basement!”
These arguments are circular in nature, and if they seem unwinnable it’s because each individual has a different concept of evil. One person’s “Jimmy page kidnapped a 14-year-old groupie” is another’s “but they burned 14 churches!” There’s no way to win. It just never ends.
With this article we are finally ending the age-old argument of which band is the most fucked up of them all. Because we guarantee you won’t find another one quite this dangerous. If you think you might have one, let us know in the comments. But make sure to peruse the rest of the article first and just think about this: If you were locked in a room for a day with (insert your pick for most fucked up band of all time), would anything bad really happen to you? And then think about what would happen if you were locked in a room for even an hour with the band that we’re about to cover. That’s right, we’ve slayed this argument once and for all.
So without further ado, let’s meet the dazzling players in the Official Most Fucked Up Band Of All Time, the aptly-named Missing Links!
On lead guitar and vocals we have none other than the second-most famous acid casualty of all time, Mr. Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators and “You’re Gonna’ Miss Me” fame. Considering this Austin legend’s long history of institutional vacations and songs about walking with zombies and bloody hammers, it’s interesting to consider that Mr. Erickson plays the “straight man” role in the Missing Links.
Roky: The Normal One
On rhythm guitar there’s Mr. Jimmy Walcott whose claim to fame before the Links was that he shot and killed his mother, father, and sister too one hot Texas evening when zonked on airplane glue. One of Rocky’s most touching poems, “For Jimmy” from his excellent Openers book, was penned for his rhythm guitarist in the Links.
Six String Slayer Jimmy Walcott
Now let’s get to the rhythm section, shall we? Steady on the bass there’s Mr. Charley Hefley. Before attaining the four-string role in the Links Hefley had created waves by stabbing a cop’s daughter and tossing her two infant sons into a river. After the Links he continued making news by somehow gaining custody of his two children and vanishing with them forevermore (lets hope he didn’t pull his river trick). But by all accounts with the Links he laid down a thumping rhythm that really carried the groove. Amazingly, Walcott is currently a college professor in Illinois (seriously, look it up if you don’t believe us).
Bassist Charley Had A Dicey Reputation
Also on rhythm there was a deaf tambourine player (think about that) who had participated in the gang rape and murder of a 12-year-old boy in Houston, plus a drummer who had become incensed that his truck was towed (he swore he saw a sign for overnight parking) so he decided to fight town hall by capping the clerk at the impound lot right between the eyes with a .44.
Now go ahead and let me know which fringe black metal band you have on deck that’s even a quarter as fucked up as this one. Seriously, we’ll wait.
Read This Book: The Excellent Openers by Roky Erickson, Written During The Missing Links Era
The story of how the Missing Links came to be is almost as strange as the fact that this band actually once existed, and the sheer amount that they accomplished during their short run, definitely more than any band YOU’VE been in, proves that there really are no boundaries that can’t be overcome, with the boundaries in this case being little things like incarceration in a state criminal mental asylum, acid burnout syndrome, and mass-murderous instincts.
So how exactly did these Missing Links come to be? Well, most of you already know the story of Roky Erickson. America’s Syd Barrett. The angel-faced kid who led Austin’s acid-laced inter-planetary explorers The 13th Floor Elevators from the youth centers of Austin to the ballrooms of San Francisco’s Summer Of Love to the top of the charts with “You’re Gonna’ Miss Me”. The naturally otherworldly Roky and LSD were not a very productive combination, and within months of playing shows with The Dead and Joplin and appearing on American Bandstand young Roky was beginning to exhibit the alien worship and horror movie mental saturation he would later become known for among cultists and mental facility intake centers. Busted for two joints in 1966, Roky bluffed out the notoriously draconian Texas mandatory minimums with an insanity plea, with the peaceful young musician eventually finding himself mired in Rusk State Hospital For The Criminally Insane.
Young Roky On The Dick Clark Show
While locked up in the mental ward, the ever-resourceful and creatively unstoppable Roky wasn’t just gonna’ do the Thorazine Shuffle with the rest of the cooks. As he’s done for his entire life when under the worst circumstances, Roky was gonna’ write some cool shit and play some music. He managed to pocket the zombie pills they like to hand out in mental wards to keep the populace under control, trading them with a fellow inmate for some good old fashioned speed which he utilized to stay up many nights in a row to complete his Openers book that was eventually smuggled outside for publication in 1972. He also excelled at his hall mopping duties, eventually earning enough trust with the guards to gain a warped acoustic guitar, a bible, and a record player, an inspirational trinity if there ever was one.
Roky At Rusk Looking Like A Young Elvis
Incredibly, there was already a traditional country band rocking Rusk State Hospital For The Criminally Insane (ah, Texas), but Erickson rejected their offer since he preferred song subjects like demons and alligators to whiskey and women’s’ cheatin’ ways. So instead he formed a rock group. And what a group it was. The first Missing Link drafted in was his good friend Jimmy Walcott, who aside from being a parenticide enthusiast could also play a mean guitar. He also happened to know a certain deaf tambourine player/rapist, who happened to know a child murdering bassist, and little by little the Missing Links fell into place. It really shows how lovably naive and benevolent Roky was at this point, taking on this demented gaggle to continue his visionary quest, utilizing the resources available under tough circumstances. Sure they had killed MANY PEOPLE but they were truly crack players, and soon this most fucked up of bands was rocking the tiers at Rusk. The band was awarded a half-day practice session per week and utilized it to hone themselves into a tight unit capable of tackling any of the popular hits of the rich late ’60s airwaves piping in from the inmates’ transistor radios, plus taking on some of Roky’s more challenging original material he had been steadily crawling in his cell. By all accounts Roky was quite happy with his band of murderers and felt that they provided an ample musical framework for his increasingly bizarro ideas.
The Link’s Stomping Grounds
So what did the Missing Links sound like? Lordy, we hope there are tapes. None have yet surfaced, but should any see the light of day these would be the true Holy Grail for Roky cultists the world over. Instead we only have some scant quotes that do go a long way toward painting a picture of the Link’s vibe. According to anyone who has ever commented on the Missing Links, they were indeed a very good band. As a professional musician and former star, of course Roky served as the lead man and musical director. As his brother Donnie Erickson once put it, “He was the head of a bunch of murderers.” He had apparently abandoned his trademark scream and was singing in a softer, but no less emotive, style. He had abandoned his old faves Dylan and the Beatles in favor of the prime shamanistic Stones of 1969. He had somehow got his hands on a copy of Let It Bleed, and the record’s rootsy but supremely decadent material crawled its way into his head. So picture Roky Erickson doing his best Jagger impersonation as the murderous Links played da’ blooze in some mental hospital side room and you can get a decent picture of this intriguing band.
Roky himself has only commented sparsly on his onetime main band, but his words paint a vivid picture:
“A couple of groovy guys got me off the mop line to be in a rock and roll band with some of the patients, and we called it the Missing Links. We performed and I would try to scream and I’d be under so much tension that I couldn’t scream. Because I was in with people that were there for murder. I mean vicious murderers. ‘Well all right, here’s the guy with the vicious murderer and here’s Roky. His circle is just as big as Roky’s circle, they’re equal, and they’re in here for the same thing. It’s like ‘The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carol’. There’s injustice in injustice.”
Roky and Jimmy Clowning Around On The Yard
But do you want to hear the most fucked up thing about this most fucked up of bands? Ok here it goes: They were allowed to play OUTSIDE of the mental institution. On many occasions. Accompanied by a the ward’s “Recreational Director” Jack Ball and a facilities janitor named Bob Priest who played steel guitar, this band of child murdering rapists actually played at the Alto High School Senior Prom (dear god) the Indian Summer Music Festival in East Texas, and at a 1970 rodeo where an audience eyewitness claims they played an intriguing combination of old Little Richard hits, Stones covers including “Honky Tonk Women” (perfect for a rodeo), and Roky originals like “Thank God For Civilization” and “Unforced Peace”.
It is also a fact that the Missing Links played on local television three times. This was the ’60s and regional television was a thing, with sometimes dozens of stations for any lonesome rural county. Well in East Texas the squeaky clean young gentlemen of the Missing Links were beamed in during prime time on three known occasions. They rocked The Johnnie Lawrence Show on KTRE Channel 9 in Luftkin, The Glenn Earle Show on KJAC Channel 4 out of Port Arthur, and on WBAP out of Fort Worth. Only one of them ended up creating any controversy, but not because the members were on a day pass from a hospital for the criminally insane and had viciously killed a number of people. No, the switchboards lit up because they had dared to play an anti-war folk number on the air deep within the heart of Texas during Nam time. As Roky put it:
“Our band at Rusk was on television three times, but we sang and anti-war song and about a million straights called up and said, ‘That’s a bunch of shit, we believe in war so let’s not have any of that peaceful shit on TV.’”
The fact that the Missing Links were derided in deep Texas for being “too peaceful” is just really too trippy for words.
There are rumors that the rodeo show was recorded, but nothing turns up on the dark corners of the web. The TV footage from those forgotten rural regional stations as long been lost. But the fact that this band of incarcerated murderers played a prom and a rodeo and a summer music fest and made it onto television on three occasions should serve as an inspirational story for any band out there who thinks for even a second that the odds are stacked against them.
Roky was released from Rusk in 1974, putting an end to the promising career of the Missing Links. Shortly after his release he put out, with his new band Bleib Alien, the incredible “Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)” single, arguably his best ever song. Considering the song was written while at Rusk and performed with the Links, we can get a very good idea what type of scary, white hot goodness the links were pumping out in that mental hospital practice room and at rodeos and proms across East Texas from 1969-1974.
Roky Breathing Fire In 1974
So there you have it. The most fucked up band of all time. Acid-addled teen idols, TV appearances, Deaf tambourinists, proms, kidnapping, rodeos, horrific murders, Little Richard covers, Thorazine, Mick Jagger obsession, parenticide, horn-rimmed glasses, shock treatments, summer music fests, and the straight jacket blues.
The fabulous Missing Links.
“Hey man, I was just the singer.”
*One day we will do an article about the sheer evil of Dave Grohl and Company. This article will change the world for the better.