R.I.P. Benny Thurman, Original Thirteenth Floor Elevators Bassist
A classically trained violinist and Marine Corps veteran, Thurman, born February 20, 1943, played with the Elevators from late 1965 to mid-1966. Previously, he played with future Elevators John Ike Walton and Stacy Sutherland - whom he met at the famous Austin UT-area hamburger stand Dirty's - in the Lingsmen, an Austin dance band that relocated to the Gulf Coast and established a popular residency at Port Aransas beachside concession stand/club the Dunes.
"I was a fiddle player, violin," Thurman told Austin Chronicle writer Margaret Moser in 2004. "I couldn't play bass worth a darn, but I said I'd learn. It was hard, but I got a big ol' jazz bass from John Ike [Walton]. I could keep up and was on a lot of the fast rock stuff, but then they got into those romantic love songs, with Roky singing."
He sure did. Thurman, a longtime State of Texas employee, went back to violin and played in the Austin band Plum Nelly before retiring from music in the 1970s. He is survived by his daughter, Jennifer. No funeral arrangements have been announced, but a likely place to look is the memorial thread on the Texas '60s Music Refuge Yahoo message board.
The Elevators' 1966 appearance on American Bandstand, still one of the most surreal moments in all of '60s pop-culture history:
If anyone has any further information to add about Thurman, the Lingsmen, the Dunes or the Elevators, please leave it in the comments. Houstonians and psych fans in general could always stand to know a little more about that era. - Chris Gray