Baby, you’re driving my crazy
I’m going out of my head
now I wish I was dead
The Sonics were the best of the Pacific Northwest “Punk Rock” garage bands of the early 1960’s. Along with groups like The Kingsmen, Paul Revere & The Raiders and The Wailers; The Sonics came to define a sound: 3 chords, coarse vox, low production values and ATTITUDE.
As cited by critic Lester Bangs; Punk’s lineage can be traced from the late 50’s sound of Richie Valens and Little Richard through these Pac NW bands, up through the later 60’s sounds of the “Nuggets” bands such as the Count 5 and The Seeds, through the proto punk of The Stooges and into the late 70’s (Ramones, etc).
The Sonics might have been the most primal of the PAC NW bands. Led by Gerry Roslie’s shrieking vocals and Rob Lind’s Sax, The Sonics were just nasty and dirty. Their records sounded like there was no one in the control room and according to legend, the amps had holes torn in them by ice-picks. Their first album : 1965’s Here Are The Sonics was recorded on a two track, with one mic positioned by the drums. The rawness continues on 1966’s Boom.
1967’s Introducing The Sonics brought a more polished sound and was not successful. After that, the band broke up to go to college and the real world.
The original Sonics reformed shortly in 1972 in Seattle and the show was recorded and released on a record called Live Fanz Only.
In 1979, Gerry Roslie recorded with a new line-up and released Cinderella for Bomp records.
Were The Sonics the first real “Punk Band”? Quite possibly. Songs such as "The Witch", "Psycho" and "Strychnine" show that the subject matter, instrumental proficiency and musical delivery associated with Punk was extremely evident with The Sonics.
There were rumors that the Sonics were asked to reform recently to perform at some Garage Rock fests. Sadly, The Sonics have not taken the bait (yet). Gerry Roslie has been quoted as saying that the band could never live up to everyone’s expectations.
Perhaps with their new notoriety (their classic "Have Love Will Travel" is the soundtrack of a popular car commercial), they’ll be encouraged to play some shows.