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The Sonics

Of all the garage bands that made a glorious racket in the 1960s, few if any were louder, wilder, or more raw than the Sonics, a Tacoma, Washington quintet whose over the top style, complete with roaring guitars, pounding drums, and the fevered howls of lead singer Gerry Roslie, anticipated the mania of punk and pushed rock & roll deep into the red zone during their 1963-1966 heyday. The Sonics were stars in Washington, but it took a while for the rest of the world to catch on, and in time they would become one of the most fabled bands on the Pacific Northwest rock scene.

The Sonics were founded in 1960 by guitarist Larry Parypa, who was introduced to the guitar by his uncle and encouraged by his parents, who both had a keen interest in music. The Sonics began as an instrumental combo that featured Larry's older brother Andy Parypa on guitar and, for a brief time, another Parypa sibling, Jerry, on sax, while their mom occasionally played bass at rehearsals. The Sonics initially specialized in tough R&B material and guitar-based instrumentals in the mold of Link Wray and Duane Eddy. Before long, the Sonics became a fixture on the Tacoma teen club scene, a lively circuit that included the Wailers (not Bob Marley's band) and Paul Revere & the Raiders. The Sonics' early lineup shifted often, but the group's membership became stable in late 1963 with the arrival of three members of the Searchers (not to be confused with the British pop group), a band fronted by future Moby Grape guitarist Jerry Miller. Drummer Bob Bennett, sax player Rob Lind, and keyboard player Gerry Roslie jumped ship from the Searchers to become permanent members of the Sonics, with Larry remaining on lead guitar and Andy shifting to bass. Although the band had been solid before, the new lineup evolved into a powerhouse; Bennett wasn't afraid to hit the drums hard, Larry's guitar work had become sharper and more ferocious with time, and when Roslie was encouraged to sing, they discovered he could wail like a leather-lunged Little Richard, and the Sonics quickly became the most talked-about band in the Northwest.

In 1964, Buck Ormsby, who played bass with Northwest heroes the Wailers, was impressed with the Sonics' new lineup and became their manager, as well as signing them to Etiquette Records, a local label he helped run. For their first single, the Sonics took one of their few original tunes and changed it from a number about a proposed dance craze into a cautionary tale about a treacherous female; the results, "The Witch," had a dark, sinister undercurrent and between Parypa's guitar, Bennett's drumming, and Roslie's vocals, it was louder and crazier-sounding than anything else a Northwest band had committed to tape. Backed with a manic cover of Little Richard's "Keep A'Knockin'," the single was too much for many local radio stations, but eventually it broke through in enough smaller markets that the record became a major hit in the Northwest; enough so that rather than continue to pay publishing royalties to Little Richard for the B-side, the band recorded another original, "Psycho," that soon turned the 45 into a two-sided hit. In 1965, Ormsby rushed the Sonics into the studio to cut a full-length album, and Here Are the Sonics!!! was a garage rock touchstone, a loud and relentless slice of primitive thunder that caught the band at its hot-wired peak, thanks in part to the simple, elemental production by recording engineer Kearney Barton.

The success of "The Witch" and "Psycho" made the Sonics a major draw in the Northwest, and they were playing some of the biggest and most prestigious venues available to local rock bands of the day (including the Seattle Coliseum), as well as sharing stages with the Beach Boys and the Shangri-Las. In 1966, the Sonics cut a second LP for Etiquette with Barton, Boom, which featured several more local hits, including "Cinderella," "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," and "Shot Down." However, it became evident that the Sonics had gone as far as a local band could go in the Northwest, while they enjoyed only scattered airplay in the rest of the United States. The Sonics signed a deal with Jerden Records, another Northwest label that had a distribution deal with ABC-Paramount Records, giving the band a better shot at national success. Unfortunately, Jerden head Jerry Dennon sent the Sonics to Los Angeles to record their third album, 1967's Introducing the Sonics, and while producer and engineer Larry Levine had an impressive résumé (including recording many of Phil Spector's classic singles), he couldn't deliver the hard-edged sound Barton had brought to their earlier work, and Introducing the Sonics sounded anemic compared to their Etiquette recordings, despite strong performances by the group. Later in 1967, the Sonics recorded a cover of Frank Zappa's "Any Way the Wind Blows" for Piccadilly Records, a Jerden offshoot, and while it was promptly reissued by Uni Records, it failed to click. Soon afterward, Bennett and Roslie left the band, and while Lind and the Parypa brothers soldiered on for a while, it wasn't long before the Sonics were history.

The Sonics' reputation in the Northwest led to a one-off reunion show in Seattle in 1972 (a handful of tunes from the show appeared on an EP from Etiquette, Live Fanz Only), and in 1980 Roslie began working with a garage rock band called the Invaders. They recorded an album dominated by old Sonics tunes and mid-'60s covers; titled Sinderella, it was released under the name the Sonics, though beyond Roslie's vocals, it didn't capture the original band's raw magic. By this time, the Sonics had gained a powerful reputation among fans of vintage garage rock, and later in the decade many bands on the burgeoning grunge scene, including Nirvana and Mudhoney, would cite the Sonics as an influence, as would such nuevo-garage acts as the Hives and the White Stripes.

In 2007, the Sonics were persuaded to do a reunion show in New York City as part of the annual Cavestomp garage rock festival; while Andy Parypa and Bob Bennett opted not to participate, citing an unwillingness to travel, Gerry Roslie, Larry Parypa, and Rob Lind were on hand, with Ricky Lynn Johnson, formerly of the Wailers, sitting in on drums and Don Wilhelm of the Daily Flash on bass. The show was a success, and the Sonics began regularly playing club and festival dates in Europe and the United Kingdom, as well as a few dates at home, with Bennett joining the new lineup of the band on-stage for a 2008 show in Seattle. In 2009, Don Wilhelm parted ways with the Sonics, and Freddie Dennis became their new bassist.

In 2010, the Sonics went into the studio with producer Jack Endino to record their first new material since the '60s; the EP, entitled 8, also saw Andy Parypa rejoining his brother Larry, Roslie, Lind, and Johnson to record four new songs, with four live tracks rounding out the release. In 2014, the Sonics -- featuring new drummer Dusty Watson, who had worked with Dick Dale, the Surfaris, Davie Allan, the Boss Martians, and the Supersuckers, as well as Gerry Roslie, Rob Lind, Larry Parypa, and Freddie Dennis -- began work on a full-length album, with producer and engineer Jim Diamond (the Dirtbombs, the White Stripes, the Fleshtones, the Pack A.D.) at the controls. The LP, This Is the Sonics, was released on the group's own Revox label in March 2015, followed by an American concert tour. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Live At Easy Street

1. Cinderella (Live)

2. Money (Live)

3. Boss Hoss (Live)

4. Keep A Knockin' (Live)

5. Head On Backwards (Feat. Chris Bellew) (Live)

6. Bad Betty (Live)

7. Louie Louie (Feat. Matt Lukin & Jason Kertson) (Live)

8. He's Waiting (Feat. Van Conner) (Live)

9. Have Love Will Travel (Feat Big Kahuna) (Live)

10. Leaving Here (Feat. Eddie Vedder) (Live)

11. Hard Way (Feat. Rod Moody) (Live)

12. Psycho (Feat. Andy Parypa) (Live)

13. The Witch (Feat. Ben Shepher & Mark Pickerel) (Live)

14. I Don't Need No Doctor (Live)


Track List: This Is The Sonics

1. I Don't Need No Doctor

2. Be A Woman

3. Bad Betty

4. You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover

5. The Hard Way

6. Sugaree

7. Leaving Here

8. Look At Little Sister

9. I Got Your Number

10. Livin' In Chaos

11. Save The Planet

12. Spend The Night


Track List: Introducing The Sonics

1. The Witch

2. You Got Your Head On Backwards

3. I'm A Man

4. On The Road Again

5. Psycho

6. Bama Lama Lu

7. Leave My Kitten Alone

8. Love Lights

9. I'm Going Home

10. High Time

11. I'm A Rolling Stone

12. Like No Other Man

13. Maintaining My Cool

14. Dirty Old Man

15. Diddy Wah Diddy


Track List: 8

1. Cheap Shades

2. Bad Attitude

3. Don't Back Down

4. Vampire Kiss

5. Cinderella (Live)

6. Strychnine (Live)

7. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (Live)

8. Psycho (Live)


Track List: Busy Body!!! Live In Tacoma 1964

1. Introduction: Live At The Red Carpet Teen Club (September 1964)

2. In The Open (Live)

3. Tall Cool One (Live)

4. Goin' Back To Granny's (Live)

5. Busy Body (Live)

6. Night Train (Live)

7. Number X (Live)

8. Introduction: Live At The Tacoma Sports Arena (November 27, 1964)

9. Tough Walk (Live)

10. Have Love, Will Travel (Live)

11. Ooh Pooh Pah Doo (Live)

12. Hitch Hike (Live)

13. Busy Body (Live)

14. The Witch (Live)

15. KTNT Radio Spot


Track List: The Savage Young Sonics

1. A-Rab

2. Rumble

3. Shanghied

4. Sonic Blues

5. Mashed Potato Time

6. Wailin'

7. High Wall

8. Lucille/Slippin' And Slidin'

9. Swing Shift

10. Louie Louie

11. Sac O' Woe

12. Hey Mrs. Jones

13. In The Open

14. Bony Moronie

15. Just Pickin'

16. Sonics Dance Ad

17. Wailers House Party

18. Keep A Knockin'

19. Think

20. Hold It


Track List: Fire & Ice II / The Lost Tapes

1. Away The Wind Blows (Version A)

2. Away The Wind Blows (Version B)

3. Loveitis

4. I'll Always Love Her

5. Lost Love

6. Good Hard Rock

7. Once Again

8. I'll Stay With You

9. I'm Right

10. Only She Would Do

11. Love Lights

12. Goodbye

13. Near My Soul

14. Wake Me, Shake Me

15. You're In Love


Track List: Psycho-Sonic

1. The Witch

2. Boss Hoss

3. He's Waitin'

4. Psycho

5. Louie Louie

6. Strychnine

7. Cinderella

8. Shot Down

9. Have Love Will Travel

10. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

11. Dirty Robber

12. Keep A Knockin'

14. The Hustler

15. Jenny Jenny

16. Hitch Hike

17. Roll Over Beethoven

19. Do You Love Me

21. Good Golly Miss Molly

22. Night Time Is The Right Time

24. Let The Good Times Roll

25. Don't You Just Know It

26. Since I Fell For You

28. Psycho (Live)


Track List: Maintaining My Cool

1. The Witch

2. You've Got Your Head On Backwards

3. I'm A Man

4. On The Road Again

5. Psycho

6. Dirty Old Man

7. I'm Going Home

8. High Time

9. I'm A Rolling Stone

10. Like No Other Man

11. Maintaining My Cool

12. Bama Lama Lu

13. Leave My Kitten Alone

14. Hanky Panky

15. Diddy Wah Diddy


Track List: Here Are The Sonics

1. The Witch

2. Do You Love Me

3. Roll Over Beethoven

4. Boss Hoss

5. Dirty Robber

6. Have Love Will Travel

7. Psycho

8. Money

9. Walkin' The Dog

10. Night Time Is The Right Time

11. Strychnine

12. Good Golly Miss Molly

13. Keep A Knockin'

14. Don't Believe In Christmas

15. Santa Claus

16. The Village Idiot


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This is punk! I think its funny that the Ramones keep saying first punk band. This is punk!
Now the net calls it protopunk... j e b u s
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First heard of these guys courtesy of The Swingin' Neckbreakers (another excellent garage-rock band) and their cover of Boss Hoss.
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I had never heard of the Sonics before Pandora. I heard Iggy Pop refer to them as a big influence. These guys were a F'in jam.
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The Sonics Shot Down great tune!!!!!!! Somehow don't remember ever hearing The Sonics...Tha n k s Pandora!!!
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Underrated band
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if you like this, i recommend this band called the Zakary Thaks
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garage rock doesn't get better than the sonics
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Saw them when they opened for Robert Plant; they were a lot of fun.
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I never heard of these guys until Pandora. They kick a**. Groovy Punk.
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Who was blowing that sax?
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I had never heard of these guys until 2-3 years ago. Original punk feel.
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Yes, Sonics very much Punk roots. Raw energy, untamed.
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This is a great song
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michaelrocks 6 8
Naw, 'punk', can't trace itself to this. C'mon, now.
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Just taught my 11 year old the bass part for Have Love and he loves it. Great song to teach a kid. Easy lick but demanding enough to make him better.
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pure, raw naked rock and roll...fckin g awesome!!!
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these guys have just got it
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One could easily make the case that Punk Rock began in 1964 with The Sonics.
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This is what The Kingsman should have sounded like based on their epic cover of Louie Louie. Glorious sloppy, loud, bad musicians, poorly recorded. In other words - perfect. God bless The Sonics.
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Mind Blowers!!!! under the radar.
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First heard this band as part of a Nuggets collection. The song on the record is called Strychnine. Given the date of the recording, its easy to see this band as groundbreaki n g similar to the Music Machine which recorded some really interesting music in the same vein. Kicks a**!
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@hotweelgirl has too much free time and not enough brain cells
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These guys must've been something live in concert!!
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I hear some Eric Burden in their music.
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the sonics freakin' rock! any haters just don't know
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By the way, the band was around LONG before the basketball team was.
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Well, after listening to these guys, you can clearly see where Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain are totally derivative now, can't you :) ....
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good take on a Huey Smith Classic
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Timeless Rawk.
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You suck.
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Punk sucks.
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Why is this song on the Old School Punk station? It's OK, but not punk.
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luv the sonics...the y played the first high school dance i went to back in '64
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Ouch, good stuff...
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I can hear the Black Keys covering "Have Love Will Travel".
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Shot Down - two minutes of pure rock and roll bliss!
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We listen to The Sonics when we get back from the bar...Late night...
.with a house full of people.. These guys keep your spirit high!
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dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually work
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This is the best new band I've heard in a while.....wh a t ? . . . . . t h e y ' r e not new?.......t h e y ' r e from when?.....Th e early 60's....No way.......Wo w .
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I remember Th Sonics and The Wailers. Great Bands. Better than what the music scene is producing today.
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one of their songs is in a bmw commercial. i love em!!!
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Pure Party music for us sick f**ks. Rock it!
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They're so cool!
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Heh,the Sonics totally rule
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Danced to them at Perl's and the Bremerton Rollerland! SKHS!
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Danced to them, live at the Spanish Castle, and The Target.
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The Sonics!..... . . . . . . T h e Sonics!
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