Our Bookshelf

Real and unreal stories of Austin and Texas singers, songwriters, and musicians (and some other stuff, too)

I've Got To Show You (our twist on an Elevators song title).



So, we've been waiting for this magnificent book for almost three years, but, as the saying goes, it was worth the wait. Paul Drummond, who has spent the past two decades chronicling the mind-blowing story of psychedelic music pioneers 13th Floor Elevators, delivers the definitive visual history of one of Austin's most illustrious and deep-fried '60s bands. Perfectly organized, beautifully designed, deftly written, and constructed from rare photos, newspaper clippings, concert posters, and other bits and bobs that Paul has spent years collecting (including a few from Sonobeat's archives as well as candid photos taken by Sonobeat friend, Ralph Y. Michaels), this is one eye-popping trip.

We can't celebrate enough Paul's now 13-year-old definitive narrative history of the Elevators, Eye Mind: The Saga Of Roky Erickson And The 13th Floor Elevators, Pioneers Of Psychedelic Sound (we write about it below), but we're so pleased that his 13th Floor Elevators: A Visual History companion piece has finally arrived. Time to celebrate all over again!

Disclaimer: Paul Drummond has been a friend of Sonobeat since we launched SonobeatRecords.com in 2004.

Published 2020 by Anthology Editions

Fire And Rain. Not just a song title... but a whole year.



Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 starts with the Beatles trying to complete Let It Be, Simon and Garfunkel hitting us with Bridge Over Troubled Water, James Taylor debuting Sweet Baby James, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young delivering Déjà Vu. And that's just in January 1970.

Four artists, four albums, and four seasons create a deep portrait of another crazy and tumultous year headlined by the Beatles' break-up, the near disastrous Apollo 13 lunar mission, the unthinkable Kent State student deaths, and a world continuing to spin seemingly out of control.

James Taylor's song Fire and Rain both anchors and sums up 1970, documented by acclaimed journalist David Browne, a Rolling Stone contributing editor. Founded on dozens of interviews with VIPs and other influencers of the era, this isn't a warm and fuzzy story. In fact, through the lens of the four artists and albums that headline the book, this is the story of the end of the idealistic peace and love hippie culture of the '60s and the beginning of a more cynical and disheartening decade that lies ahead. Sound familiar?

Published 2012 by DeCapo Press

We’re totally biased. Oh, yes. Unabashedly biased.



In 2012, University of Texas undergrad Ricky Stein writes his senior thesis in American Studies, focusing on a small Austin-based record company that makes a wave or two in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. We give Ricky unfettered access to SonobeatRecords.com as a resource and answer his questions about Sonobeat and the artists we recorded, but his thesis is distinctly his independent and well-researched take on the Austin music scene during a critically formative period in its history. In 2014, History Press publishes an expanded version of Ricky's thesis.

Sonobeat Records: Pioneering the Austin Sound in the '60s ostensibly is a profile of Sonobeat Recording Company and its founders. But, like SonobeatRecords.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, SXSWSouth By Southwest, also known as "SXSW" or "South By" and whose name is inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock thriller North By Northwest, begins in 1987 as an one-day Austin-based music festival attended by around 700 and since has expanded to also include feature films and interactive media attended by hundreds of thousands over more than a week-long period. SXSW pretty much takes over Austin during The University of Texas spring break every March, but is cancelled in 2020 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The festival is expected to return in 2021., and a rich and diverse night life.

Yep, we're proud of the Sonobeat story Ricky tells, but he properly paints it on a much larger canvas than Sonobeat itself.

Published 2014 by History Press

Wonder where psychedelic music came from? Um, Austin, Texas.



Although there have been hundreds of articles written about the 13th Floor Elevators, Austin's legendary psychedelic band, only Paul Drummond’s 2007 biography of Roky Erickson and the band tells the authoritative story. Paul updates the story in his just released 13th Floor Elevators: A Visual History, reviewed above.

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 true story reads like a thriller, complete with heroes and villains, innocence and disgrace, twists and turns. Drummond served as the official Elevators archivist with unprecedented access to every living former member of the band. He 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. There are surprises at every turn, including Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr.'s appearance as a character witness on behalf of Roky Erickson at his 1966 drug bust trial.

Disclaimer: Paul Drummond has been a friend of Sonobeat since we launched SonobeatRecords.com in 2004.

Originally published 2007 by Process Media and available from Amazon

Armadillos and Austin are, somehow, synonymous.



Eventually someone would write a definitive history of one of Austin's most storied music venues of the 1970s. Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir is that story, easily recognized if you were part of Austin's exploding music scene during the late '60s and early '70s. Armadillo co-founder Eddie Wilson (who manages psych rockers Shiva's Headband in the late '60s) aided and abetted by Austin music icon Jesse Sublett (who Sonobeat records in 1975 when he plays bass in Austin’s proto-punk Nasty Habit) bring the 'Dillo back to life, offering up an astonishing array of photos, posters, and memorabilia to illuminate a rainbow-drenched Austin epoch.

Dedicated to Austin music photographer laureate Burton Wilson, who snaps incredible candids of solo artists and bands during the entire run of the Armadillo, this is a must-read, must-see for Austin music historians and aficionados alike.

It didn't all start with the Armadillo (its predecessor, The Vulcan Gas Company, launches Austin's hippie music scene in the late '60s), but the Armadillo takes Austin the extra mile it needs to become the "Live Music Capital of the World". The Armadillo is a testament to what you can do with an abandoned National Guard armory and a lot of imagination.

Published 2017 by University of Texas Press

“I want to go home with the Armadillo.” Yep, I sure do.



From 1967 to 1969, Sonobeat records a lot of its singles releases, as well as dozens of unreleased tracks, at Austin's first hippie music hall, The Vulcan Gas Company. When the Vulcan suddenly closes in 1970, some of its original founders build a much sturdier successor: Armadillo World Headquarters, now an Austin music legend. Given the title of Gary P. Nunn's book, it would be fair to assume he's documenting the history of the Armadillo. But it's really Gary's love letter to the Austin music scene that he lives and breathes during the '60s and '70s, when he and his buddies boot up Austin's "Cosmic Cowboy" music scene and when Sonobeat has the good fortune to record him in Austin rock bands Genesee and Georgetown Medical Band). He might say "those were the days".

Gary is a founding father of the progressive country movement that makes Austin world famous in the early '70s, notably writing London Homesick Blues, the theme song for America's longest running music-based TV show, Austin City Limits. It's from Gary's unique perspective as a senior ambassador for Austin's music community that he can cast authoritative light on how the River City morphed into the "Live Music Capital of the World".

This is the Austin music story you've been looking for.

Published 2018 by Geenleaf Book Group

This Austin tale reads like a novel.
Oh, wait, it is a novel.



Barbara Light Lacy, co-author of 19th and University (2012), the first book in a quartet that concludes with Austintatious, has a connection to Sonobeat. While an undergrad at The University of Texas, Barb befriends California band Wildfire, who've trekked to Austin for a one-shot gig... and stay. Sonobeat records a demo album for the band late in '70 and, 34 years later, using tape dubs she's carried around all that time, Barb and the band release the album under the title Smokin’.

Barb lives the Austin music scene during the ‘60s, so a series of historical novels set then and there is a natural for her. The Austintatious quartet 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, form a band. And so their adventures begin...

Austintacious, published in April 2018, closes out the cycle that also includes Rebel Yell (2013) and Maya Karma (2016).

The Austintacious quartet of novels is a blast, each book a more-or-less historically accurate romp through Austin in the late '60s.

Published 2012-2018 by Amazon Digital Services

If you’re still wondering where psychedelic music came from...



Brit journalist, music critic, and poet Ben Graham chronicles the psychedelic music scene that begins in Texas in the mid-1960s. With the meticulous research we associate with Paul Drummond's 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 at The University of Texas at Austin – and an abundance of hallucinogens fuel ear-popping experimental musical off-shoots from 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, birth a musical metamorphosis that continues to influence today's musicians.

Sonobeat recording artists The Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband, The Thingies, and Bill Miller Group, whose cult classic album, Cold Sun, is produced by Sonobeat in 1970 and '71, all make appearances in this heady history.

Published 2015 by Zero Books

An Elevator's one-way descent to the sub-basement.



Fiftish years ago, Roy Waidler hears the 13th Floor Elevators on his car radio. Hooked, he tracks down the band members, in Texas, from his home on the east coast, making long-distance friendships with Elevators guitarist Stacy Sutherland and Stacy's wife Bunni and mother Sibyl. Roy keeps letters 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 ‘60s and ‘70s Texas bands (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

Quintessential weird: Austin music posters of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.



Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Micael Priest, Guy Juke, Ken Featherston, Danny Garrett, and NOXX. You've likely seen their mindbending posters if you've ever wandered through the Austin music scene. We had the good fortune of working with Gilbert Shelton and Jim Franklin, who created artwork for Sonobeat's The Conqueroo single and Lee Arlano Trio album releases in the late '60s, and whose art defines Austin's legendary Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo World Headquarters.

Homegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967 to 1982 traces four generations of music – from psychedelic to punk – using the works of these celebrated Austin artists to visually narrate a seminal 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

Odd things learned from an unconventional journalist.



We're not quite sure what to make of Glenn Jones. Our introduction to this Austin underground journalist is My Gone Austin, published posthumously in 2015, a stream-of-consiousness memoir covering Glenn's life in Austin from his arrival as a teen in 1965 through the last days of his battle with brain cancer. Equally enthralled and perplexed by Glenn's evocative portrait of life in Austin, we decide to try his earlier work, Clippings Book: The RagThe Austin SunThe Daily Texan—Rumors, Gossip, Lies & Dreams • 1966-1978 Austin, Texas • Music—Journalism—Adventures. That's a mouthful.

We can't decribe Glenn and Clippings Book better than the promotional blurb on the book's back cover: "Jones meandered a Sixties route through diverse adventure -- including writing for the radical consciousness of The Rag, the music development documented in 'Local Roots' at The Daily Texan, and The Sun's coverage of emerging musicians". That's a mouthful, too.

A renaissance man, by his death at age 71 Glenn has been a journalist, book author, musician, artist, and folklorist, holding BA and MA degrees in Anthropology from The University of Texas and a PhD from Indiana University Bloomington. We really love Glenn's poignant but weird books.

Published 2013 by Lulu.com

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 progressive country, with Austin music icon Michael Martin Murphey as its fulcrum. Though less famous than Willie and Waylon, it's Murphey who coins the term "cosmic cowboy", using it in the title of both a legendary album and legendary song. Turns out "Cosmic Cowboy" best describes the Austin-forged progressive country scene that emerges in the early 1970s.

Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks examines the Austin zeitgeist that spawns the outlaw country movement 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