Real and unreal stories of Austin and Texas singers, songwriters, and musicians
Wonder where psychedelic music came from? Um, Texas.
Although there have been hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles written about the 13th Floor Elevators, Austin's mysterious and legendary psychedelic band, only Paul Drummond’s 2007 biography of Roky Erickson and the Elevators tells the authoritative story. Of course, there's more to add to the story in the eight years since the book's release, but Paul's laid a solid foundation.
Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, the Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound is as good a narrative history of any musician or band as you'll ever get. This is a true story that reads like a thriller, complete with heroes and villains, innocence and disgrace, twists and turns. Drummond, who's the official Elevators archivist and has had unprecedented access to every living former member of the band, thoroughly documents how the Elevators as a band came to be the cult phenomenon that it is and how its individual members came to be who they were and are. Surprises at every turn, including Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr.'s appearance as a character witness on behalf of Roky at his 1966 drug bust trial.
Disclaimer: Paul Drummond has been a friend of Sonobeat since we launched SonobeatRecords.com in 2004.
Published 2007 by Process Media
An Elevator’s one-way descent into the deepest darkness
40 years ago, Roy Waidler hears the 13th Floor Elevators on his car radio. Hooked, he tracks down and connects with the band members, in Texas, from his home on the east coast, making a long-distance friendship with Elevators guitarist Stacy Sutherland and Stacy's wife Bunni and mother Sibyl. Roy keeps letters he receives from them in a box, intending to eventually write a bio of the band. After Bunni shoots Stacy dead in 1978 during a domestic dispute, Roy notches up his correspondence with Bunni and Sibyl, adding to his collection family photos they share with him. But when Roy divorces a few years later, his box of letters and photos disappears.
By the time Roy rediscovers the box in 2014, he's lost interest in writing the story of Stacy and the Elevators and sends the letters and photos to Vicki Ayo, who's already written books on Texas bands of the '60s and '70s (Boys From Houston and Boys From Houston II).
In Stacy Sutherland: Down The Rabbit Hole, Vicki interweaves interviews she collects from Stacy's friends and family with Roy's correspondence, punctuated with rare photos, and in so doing reveals the tragic descent of a remarkable person destroyed by drugs and alcohol.
Published 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Oh, yes. We’re totally biased. Unabashedly biased.
In 2012, University of Texas undergrad Ricky Stein began writing his senior thesis in American Studies, focusing on a small Austin-based record company that made a wave or two in the late 60s and early 70s. We gave Ricky unfettered access to use Sonobeat.com as a resource and answered his questions about Sonobeat and the artists Sonobeat recorded, but his thesis was distinctly his independent and well-researched take on the Austin music scene during a critically formative period in its history. In 2013, Ricky turned his thesis into a full-length book that was published in January 2014.
Sonobeat Records: Pioneering the Austin Sound in the '60s ostensibly is a profile of Sonobeat Recording Company and its founders. But, like Sonobeat.com itself, that's just a cover for the real stories of Austin music during the '60s: those of the singers, songwriters, and musicians who populated a thriving university town and who built a laid-back, non-corporate music capital that spawned the progressive country movement of the 1970s, Austin City Limits, and SXSW.
Yep, we're proud of the Sonobeat story Ricky tells, but he properly paints it as a much, much bigger picture than Sonobeat itself.
Published 2014 by History Press
If you’re still wondering where psychedelic music came from...
Brit journalist, music critic, and poet Ben Graham documents the psychedelic music scene that began in Texas in the mid-1960s. With the meticulous research we associate with Paul Drummond's 13th Floor Elevators biography, Eye Mind, Graham threads through a defining era in Texas music, one in which a developing and rebellious hippie culture, a newfound freedom of expression on and around Texas college campuses – especially on the University of Texas at Austin campus – and an abundance of drugs fuel wildly experimental musical off-shoots of traditional rock.
While A Gathering of Promises – borrowing its title from the album by San Antonio's Bubble Puppy – holds up Austin's 13th Floor Elevators as the psychedelic gold standard, Graham's canvas is much broader, portraiting a generation of Texas bands – most based in Central and South Texas – who, beginning in 1966, birthed a musical metamorphosis that continues to this day.
Sonobeat recording artists Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband, the Thingies, and the Bill Miller Group, whose album, Cold Sun, was produced by Sonobeat in 1970 and '71 and has become a cult classic, all make appearances in this story.
Published 2015 by Zero Books
Quintessential weird: Austin music posters of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s
Whether or not the names Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Micael Priest, Guy Juke, Ken Featherston, Danny Garrett, or NOXX mean anything to you, you've likely seen their mindbending music posters if you've ever wandered through the Austin music scene. Sonobeat had the pleasure of working with Gilbert Shelton and Jim Franklin, who created artwork for the label's Conqueroo single and Lee Arlano Trio album releases in the late '60s.
Homegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967 to 1982 traces four generations of music – from psychedelic to punk – using the works of celebrated Austin artists to visually narrate that influential 15 year span in the development of Texas music and pop-culture.
"From mind-melting psychedelia and surreal treatments of Texas iconography to inventive interpretations of rock and roll, western swing, and punk, this book offers the definitive, long-overdue survey of music poster art by legendary Texas artists." – University of Texas Press description
"A sprawling illustrated monument to Austin music and culture." – PopMatters
Published 2015 by University of Texas Press
This Austin tale reads like a novel.
Oh, wait, it is a novel.
Barbara Light Lacy, co-author of Maya Karma, the third book in a planned quintet, has a connection to Sonobeat. While an undergrad at The University of Texas, Barb befriended California band Wildfire, who had trekked from California to Austin for a one-shot gig... and stayed. Sonobeat recorded a demo album for the band in 1971 and 34 years later, using tape dubs she'd been carrying around all that time, Barb remastered and released the album under the title Smokin’.
Barb lived the Austin music scene during the ‘60s, so a set of novels set then and there was a natural for her. The book series follows the story of five Baby Boomers, drawn to Austin for different reasons, who live together in a house at 19th and University (a real intersection a couple of blocks off The University of Texas campus) and who, ultimately, forming a band.
19th and University (2012) is the first of four novels in the Austintatious series that includes Rebel Yell (2013), Maya Karma (2016), and the finale, Austintatious, due out in 2017.
A fun, more-or-less historically accurate romp through the Austin that existed in 1968.
Published 2012-2016 by Rising Times Books
Where the dusty road, that Sonobeat helped pave, leads...
For our money, Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin’s Progressive Country Music Scene is the definitive (albeit scholarly) history of the progressive country movement, with Austin music icon Michael Martin Murphey as its fulcrum. Though less famous than Willie and Waylon, it was Murphey who coined the term "cosmic cowboy", using it in the title of both an album and a song.
Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks examines the figures and attitudes that helped create the scene that begat Outlaw Country and "breaks down five aspects of what became known as Progressive Country: the Pastoral imagery, cultural conflict, live recordings, the revival of Western Swing, and Music festivals." – Music Tomes, August 29, 2012
"Stimeling has done an outstanding job of exploring the social, cultural, and political implications of this important yet often misunderstood musical phenomenon. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the rich, complex, and colorful history of American music." – Dr. Gary Hartman, Director, Center for Texas Music History, Texas State University-San Marcos
Published 2011 by Oxford University Press
Did Shakespeare say “The first thing we do is kill all the critics”?
Jesse Sublett is a seminal Austin rocker, a bass player in the band Nasty Habit that Sonobeat recorded in 1975.
In 1978 Jesse formed punk outfit the Skunks, later played with the Violators, then returned to the Skunks. In the years since, he’s become an Austin icon, as a punk/New Wave influencer, coiner of the moniker “New Sincerity“ to describe an alt music movement in Austin (you can look that one up yourself), and as a best-selling author of fiction, non-fiction, and TV documentaries.
Rock Critic Murders, published in 1987, was Jesse’s first novel and introduced the character of Martin Fender (yes, yes, we get it), a bass player and part-time amateur sleuth, in a mystery-thriller set in Austin. Fender returns in two more novels, Tough Baby, also set in Austin, and Boiled in Concrete, set in Los Angeles.
In his true-life crime story Never the Same Again: A Rock ’N’ Roll Gothic, Jesse documented his girlfriend’s gruesome murder. Jesse was the prime suspect in her murder and while in custody solved the crime and absolved himself.
Published 1987 by Viking Press
An Austin music icon comes into focus in this unique retrospective
We would be sorely remiss if we owned no copy of Austin City Limits: A Monument to Music, a collaboration by Tracy E. W. Laird (Professor and Chair of Music at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta), her husband Brandon Laird, and ACL house photographer Scott Newton. This is Tracy's second book on Austin City Limits; her previous book is 2014's Austin City Limits: A History. Both feature rare on-stage and backstage photos.
Austin City Limits: A Monument to Music spans the TV series' entire 40 year history, focusing on music superstars who contributed to ACL's early successes, but dozens of other acts that have appeared on the show also are represented. By the way, Austin City Limits is the longest-running concert series on television.
This is one beautiful coffee table book, but not one that should just sit there, next to your Houndstooth vanilla cappuccino. This sumptuous retrospective deserves your thorough page-by-page read. Austin City Limits: A Monument to Music is a spectacular four decade retrospective of one of the most legendary of Austin's many music legends.