Former drummmer of the 13th Floor Elevators gave these interviews in 1999 and 2001. Transcribed with permission from the TexasPsych Group
FIRST INTERVIEW WITH 1999
Kiloh Smith- Hello Dan.
Danny Thomas- OK, I'm here. What's the first question?
Doug Walden- sorry, I will not get to join in this weekend for the question and answer session. I get to play instead. Somebody cancelled at the last minute, and was playing this weekend. Have a good time. You could ask him from me, exactly when he did join the band? But you probably know, think I saw the elevators 3 or 4 times, but they always had the same line up, except for the bull sessions. Taylor Hall, Vulcan Gas co. at some theater in the round (they seemed a little lost, with the stage rotating), and maybe??? Love Street? Later
Andrew Brown- Kiloh, since I won't be here Friday night for the D. Thomas chat I'm forwarding some questions for him that may or may not merit some answers:
Do you have any specific recollections of playing with the Five Canadians in San Antonio in '66?
Danny Thomas- Hi Andrew, yes I remember the Five Canadians. I think we did a teen dance show on television with them in San Antonio.
Did you record with any other group in the '60s besides the Vators?
Danny Thomas- Yes, I recorded the drums tracks on Free Form Expressions with Lightning' Hopkins. I did the first drum track on Johnny Nash's "Stir It Up" his follow up hit to "I Can See Clearly Now (Bright Sun Shiny Day) and probably allot of other stuff that I can't remember right now.
How specifically did you get the job with them, and why did you leave the group?
Danny Thomas- I was invited to join the Elevators in June of 1967 by International Artists Producing Corp. at the request of Stacy Sutherland after we jammed together in Austin the preceding Christmas along with my Mexican buddy Danny Galindo. I never did leave the band. Every one was either in jail or hiding from the Texas Rangers by the end of 1968.
Kiloh Smith- Dan- I am interested in Tommy Hall. Did he have this "hold" over Roky as has been alluded to?
Do you know what the source of the "bad blood" between Roky and Tommy is?
Danny Thomas- I hold Tommy in high regard and in my estimation, he is one of the greatest philosophers of our time. Any other person of strong character would have influenced Roky if Tommy had not come along because Roky is a very sensitive and impressionable person.
Kiloh Smith- Danny- 1966 is, by far, the best documented time of the band. How did the sound evolve into late 1967 and beyond? For me, Easter Everywhere is the ultimate psychedelic album.
Tommy Hall has been quoted as saying that Roky couldn't remember the lyrics to the tunes they got too complex. Is that true?
Kiloh Smith: I've read in Relix that the 'vators were experimenting with atonal feedback later in their short career. Is that true?
I've also read that Roky started deteriorating almost a year before he was sent to Rusk. I've read that he "missed gigs". I read that his mother said that he came back "different" after his first trip to California. She said he was spaced out and covered with sores.
However, Clementine Hall is quoted as saying that she and Tommy were with Roky on his first acid trip. Near the end of the night, Roky stated (according to her) that he wanted to go home. Tommy & Clementine advised Roky to come home with them. Roky declined.
According to Clementine, they took Roky to his house. His Mother took one look at him and called the Crisis Hotline (or something). They came and got him and brought him to the hospital where he was given his first electro shock.
Clementine stated that she and Tommy broke Roky out of there shortly after that and damaged a door (or something). Clementine states that that first hospitalization was the root of all his later problems. She said that Roky was never the same after that.
Which is true? Are both somewhat true? Are both false?
Danny Thomas- First, the transition into the Easter Everywhere era of the Elevators sound is due to Danny Galindo being added to replace Ronnie Leatherman on bass and myself replacing John Ike Walton on drums. Roky was never screwed up like all of the stories (and his mother, Evelyn, who by the way I think very much of) claim that he was. It was a ruse for the Texas Rangers who were like vultures on our trails. Roky would remember the lyrics that he needed to remember at that moment to get through a gig or a studio session and then review them later to refresh his memory. If Roky would forget the lyrics then Tommy or Stacy would sing them.
Eric- How important was psychedelic drugs to your music. And did you ever understand Roky‚s lyrics?
Danny Thomas- Psychedelic drugs were the corner stone of our existence. Firstly, we were professional musicians and would have been so even without the drugs but there is no denying that the altered state of mind did create a new and unique kind of music and lyrics. I helped write many of those lyrics so I had better know what they are and what they mean.
Eric- Did anything profound or odd ever happen when you were practicing or performing a show? Also, did the drugs help you communicate with each other better?
Danny Thomas- By all means.....what you might call astral-planing or out of body observations of the performance from high above the stage much like a near death or what we used to call acid death experience. Yes we communicated with ESP after we reached a certain level in the performance, more so than with any other musicians I have ever played with.
Stephen- Danny the lyrics at the time seemed about a psychedelic state of mind. Now they seem like references to spiritualism. Any connection
from your perspective?
Danny Thomas- Yes Steve, of course it is every poet/philosopher's attempt to get a multi-leveled interpretation... The more levels the better, and Tommy was one of the best.
David McWaters- Hello Danny, This is David McWaters (Granny's brother) from Love Street Days, I hope I am doing this right. I just wanted to say hello. I almost didn't make it in time; I've been pulling tree stumps all day. I remember you guys doing " Ring of Fire" with Stacy doing vocals; do you know if there is a recording of it? The best to you.
Danny Thomas- Yes. David, I remember you from the Love Street days and I am glad you could be here tonight. I do not know of any recordings of Stacy singing Ring of Fire but I do remember playing it live on the occasion when Roky was not on the stage in order to buy some time awaiting his arrival.
Kiloh Smith- When I listen to Stacy play I am just astounded. He was such an accomplished guitarist and miles ahead of what almost everybody else was doing (at least at that time). When I listen to the Sump'n Else TV Show tracks (3/25/66 & 5/9/66), I am blown away.
What happened? How come he didn't make more music after he got out of Huntsville? What was he doing (work? school? disabled? what?) from his release until his untimely death?
Danny Thomas- Kiloh, I hate to rag on my best brother after he is dead and gone but if he had stayed off of the heroin he might have been able to do more with his incredible talent. I visited him a couple of times after the 'vators broke up and every time he was, what he called, "enslaved by the Devil" Yes, one of the most influential and innovative guitarists of the era.
Eric- How has your experiences with the elevators affected the rest of your life? Would you say it was an enriching experience or did it take a toll? Also, was your band doing it because you loved people or was it something more private?
Danny Thomas- Yes Tas, we were a bunch of peaceful and loving guys who wanted to share our original uniqueness with others. If we could get one fan to have an original thought, then we would have accomplished what we had set out to do. The success of the 13th Floor Elevators has resulted in me being alienated by most people because I just find it impossible to conform after going through it but I would not change any of it. We all got what we deserved.
Stephen- I think that I speak for many when I say that ya'll deserved much better than the way you were treated. Being first was tough, yes? By mid-70's people couldn't even comprehend the degree of your persecution. Would you agree that you paved the way for others?
Danny Thomas- Spoken like a true friend. You are a scholar and a gentleman.
Kiloh Smith- On She Lives from Sump'n Else, 5/9/66 I hear an organ. Who was that player? I've heard that it was Conquroo members. Do you know?
Danny Thomas- I don't know that was before I joined the band.
Jennie Herbst- hi. Please tell us everything about Roky the individual. I, too, am a musician and poet, and think he is a genius. Thank-you, from Jen.
Danny Thomas- HI Jen, Roky and I were pretty close (as close as one can get to Roky) I know his family well and think they are the greatest. The time and space restraints here are not adequate to even begin to answer your question. Try to be more specific and I might be able to answer a few of your questions.
Eric- Did it ever seem like your band was accessing some supreme truth and was there ever a time where you or you band mates ever felt that it was too much for your brain to handle. Did you go overboard...or was that the point.
Danny Thomas- How can you find out how much your brain can handle if you don't explore unknown territory by going overboard?
Kiloh Smith- How much of the "San Francisco Sound" actually originated in Texas? I have an interview with Lelan Rogers where he states that the sound was exported to California from Texas (and marketed better there). Was Austin the proto-Psychedelic Scene?
How did you like playing places like the Avalon Ballroom? I have a promo postcard (framed) where the 'vators played the Avalon, with the Charlatans, in June 22, 23, 24, 25 of 1967. I've seen another card, with the Fugs, from the Spring of 1968 (the "finger" poster by Moscoso). What was that like man? Just another gig? Something special? How were you accepted out there by the other bands and the fans? Oh yeah, the image on that postcard is of an "Old West" nature. I have it framed under glass with brown matting using a distressed, rustic, wood frame. It looks real 'charp man!
Danny Thomas- I did not make the trip to California with the band. John Ike Walton played those gigs.
Danny Thomas- I am ready to sign off, R U? SEE YA, Danny
Kiloh Smith- Danny- Thank you for visiting our community.
Eric- It was nice talking to you. I hope that you come back soon.
SECOND INTERVIEW WITH TONY EYEBALL FROM 2001
Tony Eyeball: What did you think of The Elevators, before you joined them?
Danny Thomas: I was asked to join the Elevators in June of 1967 at the
request of Stacy Sutherland as a result of a jam session which took place in
Austin, Texas the preceding winter. The original drummer, John Ike Walton,
had left the band for a variety of reasons after returning from the West
Coast tour. At the time, I was not very familiar with the band because I
had only been in Texas for a few months since I moved there via Indiana
where I attended military school. I was born in the Carolinas and my
musical influences were rooted in rhythm and blues so I was not very
familiar with the hard driving Texas style. I was theoretically trained,
could sight read, and proficient on piano as well as a drum kit. I thought
the Elevators were an amazing new group with a unique sound and I was very
happy to become a member of the band. I thought it was going to be a great
Tony Eyeball: When you and Danny jammed with Stacy, how did that go? And for
how long? Material?
Danny Thomas: The jam session lasted from about 2:00 AM 'til dawn. I did
not know then that it was Stacy who was playing the guitar until I received
a phone call asking me to join the band 6 months later. I pretty much
considered it another average night in the life of a drummer but it was a
really good jam session, I did remember that! The material leaned more
toward up-tempo shuffle type blues with long stretches of improvisational
risk taking which I later learned was called psychedelic.
Tony Eyeball: Your impression of Stacy?
Danny Thomas: As more and more time passes, I become more and more humbled
by the opportunity to play with such a creative musician as Stacy
Sutherland. He was one of the greatest song stylists of American
music and an innovator of new sounds, effects, and guitar techniques.
Tony Eyeball: You first impression of Roky and Tommy?
Danny Thomas: Roky and Tommy each were in a class of their own. Completely
unique individuals, they each traveled a different path. Roky was (and
still is, I am sure) one of the most in touch people with "the here and now"
that I have ever known. After you hung around him for a little while you
started to recognize the context from which he spokes. If you did not know
him well then you would probably think
that he was a little weird. Both Tommy and Roky were the consummate
artists when it came to hard work and dedication, always writing.
Tony Eyeball: Do you remember the words to "I Don't Ever Want to Come Down"?
Danny Thomas: The words to "I Don't Ever Want to Come Down".....yes, I know
Tony Eyeball: "Love's embracing chalice, is the light fantastic, helping
link the rumors of the _______ ?" ? do you know what goes there?
Danny Thomas: "moree' (pronounced 'moray') bold"
Tony Eyeball: Do you remember the premier gig of the new Elevators? your
Danny Thomas: Premier gig.....Rice University. It was the first time that I
had ever play before the public under the influence of LSD. Once I got over
the initial jitters and clicked off the tempo for "She Lives" it was all
smooth as silk from there!
Tony Eyeball: The band went to California in '67 and '68, yet you say you
were not the drummer-why? and who was?
Danny Thomas: Lelan Rogers had booked the band for a trip back to California
after I became a member but we could not honor the commitment because Roky,
Tommy, and Stacy were on probation for drug possession therefore, we could
not leave the Great State of Texas.
Tony Eyeball: Do you recall how Tommy quit the band? and why?
Danny Thomas: Tommy slipped out of Texas with Roky after breaking him out of
Hedgecroft Mental Hospital in 1968 and I have not seen him since
then, though I do keep in touch by phone. Tommy never quit the band. None
of us ever quit the band for that matter.
Tony Eyeball: When and where do you think the band ended? and why?
Danny Thomas: In order to give a brief answer to why the band ended, I would
say that the Texas Rangers and the Texas courts were probably more
responsible for the destruction of the band, not the drugs themselves.
Tony Eyeball: What ever happened to Pepper?
Danny Thomas: Pepper!.....my monkey. I gave it to Lelan Rogers before he
moved back to California. He gave it to his son Danny.
Tony Eyeball: How much $ do you think you earned while being an Elevator?
Danny Thomas: I never earned a penny but whose complaining, I'm a famous
Tony Eyeball: Do you feel like you were swindled by I.A.?
Danny Thomas: I have nothing but love for everyone involved in the project
and if I had room here I would list them all by name and explain to you how,
if it weren't for everyone involved at each point along the way, then there
would never be such an amazing story to tell.
Tony Eyeball: In your VERY interesting book, you mention a raid on the
hunting cabin at the ranch, was it Egger's? do you recall when it was?
Were you the only Elevator living there?
Danny Thomas: The location of the hunting cabin will have to remain a secret
because I don't want to bring it to any law enforcement officer's attention
who may be tuning in! No, it was not the Egger's ranch.
Tony Eyeball: Was "Easter Everywhere" a culmination of Eastern and Western
Danny Thomas: Eastern and Western religions were source material for the
lyrics to many of the songs on Easter Everywhere but it goes much deeper
that that. I really do think that Tommy Hall should be the one to answer
that question because I would be giving you my interpretation, which would
be OK but not an answer from the author. This is one of my favorite
questions to answer because many of the lyrics came as a result of burning
the late-night oil with Tommy many times. I would suggest that Tommy and
Roky were into levels of psychic phenomenon that transcended conventional
religious belief and chemically altered states of mind. Religion and LSD
were simply tools used by the 13th Floor Elevators to build a new
understanding of raison d'etre.
Tony Eyeball: As far as "Dr. Doom" do you think that was aimed at Dylan?
Danny Thomas: There was definitely a cross communication between Tommy and
Bob (Dylan). They each had an influence on many mutual friends in the
business and at that time we used to FM media to express new ideas to the
masses hidden in the rock music.
Tony Eyeball: If so, do you believe that Tommy thought it was about the
Danny Thomas: Yes...parts of John Wesley Hardin album by Dylan and Rocky
Raccoon by the Beatles were in response to the 13th Floor Elevators songs.
Tony Eyeball: Have you given rise to the thought of a "real" organized
comeback? Let me add...THANK YOU DANNY THOMAS FOR BEING A BRAVE, HONEST
SOUL, AND FOR BEING A TRUE PIONEER IN MUSIC HISTORY!!!
Danny Thomas: Yes, I considered a "come back" and tried to promote the idea
among the band members, family members, producers, etc. throughout the
1990's. I was in shape for the road because I was performing
with "Dogmeat" and "Bessie Mae's Dream" on the East coast and I have
cassettes and CD-Rs of those bands if anyone is interested. Since
1998, I have decided not to play anymore because as I get older it
wears me down and I am not going to risk my good health. I have paid
my dues enough already in the field of rock & roll music but I will
continue with my writing and photography. Also, I am experimenting
with a new concept called "sound characters". It is not music and it
is not noise. It is somewhere in-between.
Tony Eyeball: WOW! THANKS DANNY THOMAS! I never imagined this would happen!
I, and others, really appreciate your time, and I can't wait to see what
happened Sunday morning! Thanks for the answers!! All the best to you- John
Kiloh Smith: Are you here?
Danny Thomas: Danny is on-line. Please submit your questions!
Chris Meerbott: Danny, I heard that you were in a band before the Elevators
called The Concentric Eccentrics. Who was in that band other than you and
Danny and Robert Galindo? Who played what? About what year was that? I
heard the music described as soul music. Is this true?
Danny Thomas: Yeah, Danny Galindo's younger brother Bobby was a hell of a
guitar player. He and Danny formed a band with some other musicians in San
Antonio, Texas that I would jam with from time to time before Danny and I
got hooked up with the Vators....
Danny Thomas: Easter Everywhere days....the band lived in several different
locations in several different cities during the recording of Easter
Everywhere. We wrote the material in Kerrville, Texas on a sheep
ranch. We would commute to Austin occasionally to jam with other
musicians and a change of scenery. We spent the entire summer of
1967 on that ranch until we were ready to record at which time we
moved to Houston to begin recording at the Andrus (Walter) Recording
Studio on Broadway Street, in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston.
Everyone had their own private lifestyle and group of friends. We
the Vators were together we were high on acid or peyote or schrooms
and pot and playing our asses off 10 to 12 hours a day trying to get
the songs down for recording. At first we had a 4-track machine then IA
brought in a brand new eight track about half way through which we used to
record Easter Everywhere. Eight tracks were the top of the line. You could
not get more tracks than that in 1967.
- Can you describe what it was like living in that house with all of the
Elevators during the recording?
- Did you play any gigs while recording the LP?
- How many tracks was the equipment?
Danny Thomas: Fish and animals and gifts......I don't know about Roky's
preference on fish and animals but I do know that when someone would give
Roky something of the most insignificant kind like a bead necklace or a
special piece of cloth for a headband etc. that he would wear it
proudly and constantly. He valued the personal touch that his fans
bestowed on him.
- Does Roky like fish?
- What kind of gifts does Roky like?
- What kind of animals does Roky like?
- Do you have any pets?
Steve Czapla: How much of the Easter material found its way into the set
list? The 1967 tapes going around, feature 1st album stuff plus "She
Lives." (It's a shame no later shows seem to have been recorded, if only
just to hear a live "Earthquake.") Was "She Lives" an outtake from the 1st
album, or did you just play it a lot because it worked better live than some
of the other things?
Danny Thomas: You are right on the money, Steve. She Lives is an outtake
from Psychedelic Sounds. I did play it live and we would use it for the
opener quite often. Why there are no live boots of Easter material is
something I cannot give the answer to.
Kiloh Smith: After John Ike and Benny left the band, I've read that the
group was temporarily broken up. Then, with two new members, I've
read that the group quit playing live and retreated to a small house
to work on the new LP. My question is: What was the vibe at this time? Were
things on the rocks or was it seen as a new beginning? What was the attitude
of IA toward the new group?
Danny Thomas: Yes Kiloh: The jam session in Austin with me and Danny Galindo
was the last straw for Stacy's relationship with John Ike and Benny. Plus
there were some other mitigating circumstances from the record company that
put pressure on the original band to shit or get off the pot. John Ike and
Benny got off the pot.
Billy Angel: Hello, Billy Angel here. I remember seeing the Elevators
"Easter Everywhere" series of shows. Did you and Danny try to effectively
simulate John Ike and Ronnie on the OLDER songs that you did at the gigs ?
If so, did you do this BEFORE or after establishing your NEWER, evolved
styles. I sure remember you and Danny sounding similar to J.I. and R. on the
older songs. I recall that Danny G. really seemed especially great on the
newer stuff. Could you reveal anything about the aspect of being
"replacements" as far as the live shows are concerned. It's been MANY years,
but I wonder if you did the John Ike riffs on "She Lives" and whether Danny
did the Ronnie riffs on that one. I can't remember, but I wondered about
that when it fell upon me to coach the Blieb Alien Drummer and bass player
on "She Lives" - a very difficult song to really get right. I'm VERY curious
about you and Danny, but I wonder about your impressions of John Ike and
Ronnie. QUESTION-PLEASE- what John Ike-Ronnie-Bennie song(s) do you consider
the most evolved and/or your favorites - as pertains to rhythm section ?
Danny Thomas: At first Danny G. and I tried to cover the originals but
eventually we did variations that felt more comfortable as the songs aged.
You are right. I talked with John Ike about the rhythm section many times
then and over the years because we have always been good
friends. I consider John Ike to be one of the most important
influences on my drumming style.
- Was Roky ever sad about the mean things the system did to him?
- What does Roky like to do in his free time?
- Does Roky still write poems and songs?
- Does Roky like to draw?
- What foods does Roky like?
- Does Roky like reading horror stories?
- What else does Roky watch and read?
Danny Thomas: Roky does not have a resentful bone in his body. One of his
favorite phrases was to say when we pull up to an intersection stop
sign...STis Only Peace. Yes. writing and composing incessantly. And a GOOD
sketch artist....someone should find that stuff. It would be a good visual
companion for Openers II.
Artknarf: When you were recording Easter did you feel like," wow this is
pretty good or special" or just doing it and not reflecting much? I must
tell you that all the Elevators music is so great and special to me, it's
like asking Picasso about Guernica. I would also be interested if you look
back on it differently than how it seemed at the time as far as importance
Danny Thomas: I am rushing through these questions and this one seems like I
should take more time to answer but I must hurry through this. I think that
at the time I could not see the forest for the trees much like I was not
aware of the significance of the time I spent in the studio and on stage
with Lightnin" Hopkins. What I can tell you is that being with these unique
individuals gave me a sense of independence and self assurance that I had
never felt before in my young life and that what I was involved with was
certainly a special experience.
Kiloh Smith: I've read many different accounts of the song Never Another.
It's been called an Easter... out that was thrown on Bull... It's also been
written that it was part of the Beauty And The Beast sessions. To me, it is
obvious that Never Another is an Easter... out. I just want you to confirm
it (or make me eat crow). If it was an Easter... out, WHY was it left off?
That song is so powerful!
Steve Czapla: To me, it is obvious that Never Another is an Easter... out.
I just want you to confirm it (or make me eat crow). And to *my* ears, that one has always sounded... further... later...
something beamed back from someplace wayyy over the brink. Which is it?
Danny Thomas: Yes Kiloh: Never Another was recorded during the Easter
Sessions at Andrus Studio with Danny Galindo on bass. The one on Bull was
recorded later with Duke Davis on bass at Gold Star (International Artists).
By the way Danny Galindo has the original Never Another in his lock box.
Steve Czapla: Why there are no live boots of Easter material is something I
cannot give the answer to. Maybe you just weren't playing as many gigs at that point as you had been a
year before? I'm told the 1967 tape from La Maison was a sound check that
might have been used for the live album, but wasn't used. It sounds great
but doesn't seem to be a definitive performance--do you think that may have
put the band off of live recording, or--particularly as 1967 wore on--was it
just way down on the list of priorities?
Danny Thomas: I think that the record company was keeping a more watchful
eye out for bootlegs after Lelan Rogers took over the management. I think
that his plans were to take the band out of the club circuit and into the
concert level. You are right we were not playing as many small clubs and
were playing more Universities and concert halls.
Kiloh Smith: (Re: Slip Inside This House) What an incredible song! There are
several sites on the Internet that post the lyrics to it as its own page.
All that religious stuff with that shit about the Seven Seals! Wow! What
were you guys talking about when this was being recorded? Did you have an
inkling that it would become the Opus it is regarded as today? Almost eight
minutes long! Was there any pressure from IA to shorten it a bit? Almost all
rock songs were two to four minutes then. Was there any worry about the
length of it?
Danny Thomas: Well....Kiloh, Your guess is as good as mine. No, really. It
was planned carefully and premeditatedly. Also, it was a group
collaboration. Tommy mostly on lyrics, Roky on melody and phrasing, Stacy
for stylization, and Galindo and I for hunka hunka burnin' love.
Kiloh Smith: Do you know if David Koresh was ever a fan of the band?
Danny Thomas: Maybe....I guess, why not?
Artknarf: Would you like to see Easter reissued on Rhino or something like
that where it is presented and packaged like say Big Stars
third album, that is done right? Do you have a page up w/some of the sound
stuff you said you were doing now? I haven't looked
in the group files lately, have you thought of putting one there?
Danny Thomas: Rhino already included YGMM on a compilation. I would like to
find the master tapes and re-mix Easter and Bull and re-issue them as a
Billy Angel: Did Danny's use of a pick , contrary to Ronnie and Bennie, play
a major role in your SNARE syncopation ? Was Danny's pick the main influence
in any major differences in the 2 rhythm sections ? The pick is VERY up
front at times, almost like an extra snare. Did he use reverb live to get
this extra percussive effect ? It's for sure he did in the studio, right ?
Did you ever use the bass drum pyramid logo or have a version of it made ? I
never saw you with it. I know it's a trivial question. If Tommy does one of
these interviews, IMAGINE the barrage of trivial tech-questions HE'LL get !
Danny Thomas: Yes, Danny Galindo and I were very syncopation conscious at
every level, lows, mids (pick vs. snare), and highs (cymbals vs. lead
guitar). The bass drum logo was on John Ike's drum. I do have a logo that my
daughter designed which incorporates the pyramid and sun design from the
first and third albums.
Steve Czapla: I saw in an encyclopedia of psychedelic rock that the concept
of "Easter Everywhere" had to do with "the idea that one could be born again
and changed into a better person" -- which sounds like an variation on
Tommy's liner notes for the 1st album. Did Tommy come up with this? I know
you'd rather not speak for him, but do you remember what the band discussed
at the time?
Danny Thomas: Tommy had/has so much to offer in the way of philosophy that I
am in the process of trying to write a book that will reflect some of his
influence on my concept of life. I asked Tommy several years ago to write
some lyrics for my new bands but he refused and said he was working on a
definitive explanation of his conclusions and he would rather not use the
rock idiom as a vehicle. Somebody needs to see that this work is published
before it ends up in a Frisco dumpster.
Billy Angel: Did Roky ever sing DR. Doom LIVE? Do you know for sure who
sings it on the album. I know its Roky and Stacy - anyone else?
Danny Thomas: Dr. Doom, written in response to "John Wesley Hardin" was
written when things were looking the best for the new Vators. Roky's legal
trouble from drug possession were under control, Easter Everywhere was up to
122 on the album chart in Billboard and we were being put on play lists in
all the major markets with several of the tune from the album. Dr. Doom was
one of the Beauty and the Beast (album replaced by Bull of the Woods) tunes.
That is Roky and Tommy singing together.
Cmalek: What cover tunes do you recall doing? Where you guys salaried or by
the gig? did frank Davis do the actual producing of Easter? Do you know
Gregg Turner? He is rumored to have the masters to Easter Everywhere. He
worked w/ Lelan in early 80s when Epitaph For A Legend came out.
Danny Thomas: No, I don't know this Greg Turner guy but if he has the
masters I know allot of people in the business including high level record
company executives that would be interested in talking to him! As far as
covers go, it was all the covers that you hear on the boots
plus Stacy liked to throw in Ring of Fire now and then.
Kiloh Smith: Danny- I know that you were asked this during the last
interview back in May but I want to visit it again. I've read that Roky
started to visibly deteriorate after John Ike & Bennie left. He, according
to reports, chronically missed gigs. He also supposedly retreated from
active participation in the song crafting leaving the rest of the band to
pick it up. According to reports, he sometimes refused to participate in
interviews leaving that to Tommy and the others. Also, again according to
reports, he didn't look so good in
comparison to the earlier incarnation of the band. How much of this is true?
Danny Thomas: This is another one that I would like to take more time to
answer than this medium allows. Briefly... Roky was everyone's friend and
tried to do the best that he could. What else can you ask of a person than
to do the best that they can? I think that is all that
can be expected of a man. Roky did not follow anyone else's rules.
He showed up when he thought it was important to show up. He spoke
when he had something to say, not just to hear himself talk; one of
Kiloh Smith: Danny- Were there anymore acoustic tracks recorded with
Clementine & Roky? God! They are gorgeous! What's Clementine up to now?
Steve Czapla: Danny- Were there anymore acoustic tracks recorded with
Clementine & Roky? God! They are gorgeous! What's Clementine up to now? Oh, and the two Roky/Clementine tracks, "Splash 1" and "Right Track Now," do
those date from around the time of the Easter sessions? The first date I
ever saw on them was 1972.
Danny Thomas: I remember an easy going song writing collaboration between
Roky and Clementine that was reminiscent of the pre-rock folk beat era. I
was there for the composition of I Had to Tell You but I don't know about
the others. You will have to ask Clementine.
Danny Thomas: Clementine was still in the loop as of about two years ago via
her son Roland. Whether or not anyone has boots of Clementine and Roky, I
don't know but I will try to find Roland's email address and ask him if I
can give it to you, OK?
Kiloh Smith: Cool beans man!
Billy Angel: Please indulge with another Dr. Doom question. It's a very
important song to many people. Thanks, Danny. Do you mean that Stacy does
not sing at all on Dr. Doom ? That really sounds like him on the CHORUS. If
that's not Stacy, then I guess it's true that Tommy sounded VERY much like
Stacy, as a lead vocalist, right? Surely you can understand the fans'
curiosity about Tommy's voice - being that he DID do lead vocals LIVE ,
toward the end. P.S. - DID Roky ever sing it live ? I realize these details
may be difficult to recall among so many facets of such complex music. If
you do recall this stuff, it's a great gift to the fans to know.
Danny Thomas: Only Roky and Tommy singing together on Dr. Doom. Stacy did
not sing on that one. Roky sang this one live with great enthusiasm.
Billy Angel: re: "Grackle Debacle: Stacy And The 13th Floor Elevators" -live
at the VULCAN GAS CO. I'd like to ask about this show. But , FIRST comes the
HEAVY question: WAS this the last Elevators show, ever (not counting the
later "reunion" shows)? Thanks,......................... Billy
Danny Thomas: It took that show for everyone in the band and in the record
company to admit that Roky Erickson, Stacy Sutherland, and Tommy Hall were
the combination that was the 13th Floor Elevators. Yes, that was the dying
gasp of breath for the Vators.
Billy Angel: Well, I saw that show . The songs with Stacy singing were
really great and Ronnie was really great (that WAS Ronnie ?) I guess you had
to PAD OUT the set list with the older songs, and I'd agree that the
"substitute" jug player and the "substitute" singer were nothing great to
write home about. There must have been a lot of chaos, but that show seemed
more like a new beginning, to me. Stacy was better than ever. Maybe the
songs were difficult to play, live, but it was a great show. I probably got
a better "look" from my vantage point in the audience than you did from the
stage - please believe me - it WAS great. I guess the mythology of that show
is increased for all time by it being the END. In the SECOND SEQUEL to the
Elevators film that someone's BOUND to do, someday, you'll no doubt be
called upon and probably highly paid to help re-create that strange and
fateful night. Have you contemplated what it will be like to be hanging out
with "Stacy" again, some day, on a movie set of the Vulcan Gas company ?
Surely you don't doubt that this is bound to happen.
Those guys from The Doors really had a preview of what you're likely to feel
in that situation, when they hung out with Val Kilmer in his Jim Morrison
persona. WHEN it happens, remember that filmmakers are astute artists - your
memories are essential for such a film to be as great as it should be. In
fact, I hope someone has the savvy to hire YOU to write the Third Elevators
film. You'll see this happen in your lifetime. Personally, I think Stacy and
Tommy will be the biggest challenge for actors. Roky would likely be the
focal point if it's properly subtle. Hey, you guys are MYTHOLOGICAL FIGURES
for all time. If Shakespeare were around, he'd be flooding your email box,
no doubt. So, any thoughts about this spooky contemplation ? Of COURSE there
would likely be Elevators videos, with the real music and actors. Danny,
it's TOO bad the Elevators weren't filmed, but
artistic/media/historical-technology MARCHES on and will correct this tragic
error in DUE TIME. So, any thoughts about this spooky contemplation ?
A. Linsell: Have you heard any of Stacy's post Elevators solo work? Do you
know of any involvement of Stacy with a band called Ice? Was there much
experimentation and development that the songs underwent during recording or
were they all fully formed? Which songs did you enjoy playing the most
personally- and as a band?
Danny Thomas: Stacy moved back to Kerrville, Texas after Tommy and Roky
escaped to California and I stayed in Houston and later moved to Austin
where I was in a band called Head Stone with Roky's younger brother, Michael
and an old friend of ours, George Kinney. I lost track of Stacy though I did
visit him at his ranch and met the members of the band Ice though I never
heard them play. I certainly would like to hear any tapes that might still
Danny Thomas: Till we meet again, good luck.
Steve Czapla: Thanks for your time and recollections, Danny, and hope we can
do another one.
Mike Snider: Danny- Do you know if David Koresh was ever a fan of the
Funny you say that, because when the whole Branch Davidian siege happened I
automatically thought of Roky, and what his opinion would be. Certainly what
little I have heard of Koresh's music does sound vaguely like some of Roky's
solo stuff, although I don't know how much that was just due to coming up
out of the same basic environment.