27 January 2015
"The Sonics" were "Gerry Roslie" (vocals, piano, organ), "Andy Parypa" (bass guitar), "Larry Parypa" (guitar), "Bob Bennett" (drums) and "Rob Lind" (saxophone).
"The Sonics" were formed in 1960 in Tacoma, Washington, by teen-aged guitarist "Larry Parypa", with the encouragement of his music-loving parents. The earliest lineup included Parypa, drummer "Mitch Jaber", and guitarist "Stuart Turner"; Parypa's younger brother Jerry briefly played sax, and their mother occasionally filled in on bass at rehearsals.
In 1961, Parypa's older brother Andy became the bass player, and "Tony Mabin" took over as their new saxophone player.
When Turner left for the army, "Rich Koch" (who had previously played with "The Wailers") joined as lead guitarist, and "Marilyn Lodge" became their first singer, the band having been an instrumental combo up to that point. A new drummer, "Bill Dean", replaced Jaber.
Koch and Lodge left the band in 1963. Local star "Ray Michelsen" became the band's singer after having sung with a handful of other popular bands on the local scene. Larry began looking for a drummer to replace Dean, whom he felt was uncommitted to the band, and found "Bob Bennett" playing in a band called "The Searchers", with keyboardist "Gerry Roslie" and sax player "Rob Lind". "Ray Michelsen" was looking to leave the band, so the Parypas hired Bennett, Roslie, and Lind, and let their previous saxophonist Mabin go.
When the group was asked to play at their classmate's birthday party, they named themselves "The Sonics" after the sonic booms from the nearby Lewis-McChord Air Base that had been annoying their entire neighborhood.
The well-known lineup was in place, but "The Sonics"' career as loved by their continuing cult following did not begin until 1964, when "Gerry Roslie" started singing lead vocals.
With "Gerry Roslie" as lead singer the band started playing gigs at local venues such as the Red Carpet, Olympia's Skateland, the Evergreen Ballroom, Perl's (Bremerton), the Spanish Castle Ballroom, and St. Mary's Parish Hall.
The group began writing original material, and Andy asked "Buck Ormsby" bassist of "The Wailers" and owner of "Etiquette Records" to consider offering them a recording deal. When Ormbsy heard the incomplete version of "The Witch", he was instantly impressed and signed the group to his label. In 1964, "The Witch" (with "Little Richard"'s "Keep A-Knockin'" as the B-side) was released on 45 and was hugely popular. As popular as it was, the radio stations refused to play it during most hours of the day due to its ferocious style and its bizarre subject matter. This crippled the single's success significantly.
Early in 1965 "Etiquette Records" released "The Sonics"' debut LP, "Here Are The Sonics !!!" (Mono ET-LP-024 and Stereo ET-LPS-024), which was produced at Audio Recording in Seattle, Washington, with famed Pacific Northwest recording engineer "Kearney Barton". It was recorded on a two-track tape recorder, with only one microphone to pick up the entire drum kit.
When "The Sonics" came roaring out of Tacoma with this 1965 album, the band pulled out all the stops. "The Sonics" did not care about making pretty love songs or serious artistic statements.
They wanted to rock hard and loud and that they did. "Gerry Roslie" screamed his lungs out, drummer "Bob Bennett" broke his drum pedals, "Rob Lind" wailed away on his saxophone and the Parypa brothers made sure that the guitar sound was absolutely filthy.
"The Witch" and "Psycho" are pure nasty aggression, "Strychnine" is punk. Filled with all sorts of terrific covers.
These covers play tribute to black performers like "Ray Charles", "Little Richard", and "Chuck Berry". The exception is "Dirty Robber", which tips the hat to "The Wailers"' original.
If you feel like dancing and jumping at the same time this is for you.
"Gerry Roslie"'s vocals are sensational - among the greatest white pure rock and roll singers, with a blood curdling line in screams.