Our Bookshelf

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 about the 13th Floor Elevators, Austin's 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 ten 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

Armadillos and Austin are, somehow, synonymous.

It had to happen eventually... someone had to write a definitive history of one of Austin's most storied music venues of the early 1970s. Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir is that story, if you were part of Austin's exploding music scene from the late '60s to the late '70s. Of particular note, Armadillo co-founder Eddie Wilson (who managed psych rockers Shiva's Headband) and Austin '70s and '80s music icon Jesse Sublett (who Sonobeat recorded when he played bass in the proto-punk Nasty Habit) bring the 'Dillo to life, offering up lots of great pictures and Amadillo posters to illuminate a rainbow-drenched Austin epoch.

Dedicated to Austin music photographer laureate Burton Wilson, who snapped 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 (it was really the Armadillo's precedessor Vulcan Gas Company that launched Austin's hippie music scene in the late '60s), but the Armadillo took Austin the extra mile it needed 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

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, SXSW, and a rich and diverse night life.

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 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

The odd things you learn from unconventional journalists...

We're not quite sure what to make of Glenn Jones. Our introduction to this Austin underground journalist was 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 until he succumbs to brain cancer in October 2015. Equally enthralled and perplexed by Glenn's evocative portrait of life in Austin, we decided 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 copy 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".

A renaissance man, Glenn was a reporter, writer, musician, artist, and folklorist, taking his BA and MA in Anthropology at The University of Texas and his PhD at Indiana University Bloomington. We really love Glenn's poignant but weird books.

Published 2013 by Lulu.com

An Elevator’s one-way descent into the deepest darkness.

42 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 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

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

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 pleasure of working with Gilbert Shelton and Jim Franklin, who created artwork for Sonobeat's Conqueroo single and Lee Arlano Trio album releases in the late '60s, and whose art defined 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 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

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.

Published 2015 by Insight Editions