A five-piece rock & roll band from Tacoma, Washington (USA), The Sonics combined the classic Northwest-area teen-band raunch with early English band grit (particularly influenced by The Kinks), relentless rhythmic drive and unabashed 1950s-style blues shouting for a combination that still makes their brand of rock & roll perhaps the raunchiest ever captured on wax.
The idea of a “garage band” was not exactly new before The Sonics, but it was clear from their debut single, The Witch, that The Sonics were going to shake things up. After the single became the biggest-selling 7″ in the Northwest, the band recorded their album, Here Are The Sonics (1965) at Audio Cuts in Seattle.
For those unfamiliar with the band, this is as primal as Rock & Roll gets; shredded fuzz guitar, shrieked vocals and nutter songs (Psycho, Strychnine, Boss Hog and, of course, Louie Louie). The Cramps (and, indeed, The Hives) owe a huge debt to these original subterranean garage monsters!
Lead singer Gerry Roslie was no less than a white Little Richard, whose harrowing soul-screams were startling even to the Northwest teen audience, who liked their music powerful and driving with little regard to commercial subtleties.
With hit after hit on the local charts – and influencing every local band that ever took the stage – the band inexplicably was never able to break out nationally, leaving their sound largely undiluted for mass consumption.
Breaking up in the late ’60s (after one ill-fated album attempt to water down their style for national attention), The Sonics continue today to be revered by ’60s collectors the world over for their unique brand of rock & roll raunch.
During their mid-60s heyday, they were unknown outside of their native Pacific Northwest but these days Land Rover use their Have Love Will Travel in their commercials and The Sonics are racked in high street music stores.
In recent years the band have reunited for one-off gigs.
During the Vietnam War, Saxophonist Rob Lind served as a fighter pilot.
Vocals, organ, piano
Sax, harmonica, vocals