Sonny Vincent – bio

s. vincent

This is a brief outline of Sonny Vincent’s history, to some it may read like the perfect script for a movie about a Rock’n’Roll desperado on his way to becoming an icon. But this story is not from any movie folks or about any media hype, it’s about the real thing? A real rock’n’roll hero with the passion, the energy and the feeling. The integrity of his music is obvious in the opening notes of each and every song. The audience reaction at his live performances can only be described with words like ‘possessed’ ‘uninhibited’, ‘intense’? ‘wild’. Born in New York City and raised on its streets and in its clubs. At age 13 he illegally lived in a girls’ dorm on the campus of N.Y.U. with three female students. At 14 he played his first show in the Village. At 15 he spent some time in reform school. But all through everything always writing and performing with his 1969 Gibson Les Paul. There is a lot of history to tell such as a two year jail term for possesion of one joint, but it is all right there in the music and that’s where it screams out loud and where you can find it …all the pain as well as the excitement from someone who has lived wild and hard. As you find out more and more of the bits and pieces of his life you really feel someone could make a movie about him? but like I said its all in the music. Listen to it, you?ll know, too.
Alain Courtre
1976 Sonny Vincent forms the group TESTORS. The original TESTORS was a three piece group: with lots of yelling and screaming, lots of dissonance, two loud guitars, primal drums (with no hi-hat) and they did not use a bass player. The line up: Sonny Vincent, vocals and guitar; Gene Sinigalliano, guitar; and Gregory R., drums.

1977 Testors constantly performs shows in N.Y.C. mostly at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City with groups such as Mink DeVille, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, The Cramps, Dead Boys and many others. Later in the year they begin headlining. This year Sonny also spends six months in a jail. A special “reform school” for underage criminals. Labeled by the court as a ‘PINS case’ (person in need of supervision), his infraction include trespassing, destruction of city property and drug possession.

1977-78 TESTORS tours the East Coast of the U.S.

1978 TESTORS goes through some changes. Gregory the drummer gets in some violent situations and leaves town. Testors bring Jeff Couganhaur (West) from Cleveland in on drums and finally add a bass player to the band. The bass player’s name is Ron Pieniak, a surrealistic painter/artist, as well as a good friend of Sonny and Gene who lived to gether with Gene in the Testors loft. Ron’s stint with Testors although short-lived was the first version of Testors with a furious pounding bass. As well as playing bass for Testors Ron designed many of the flyers used to promote their shows in New York City.

1979 TESTORS adds a new bass player Kenneth Brighton and Sonny experiments with writing songs with more than two parts and somewhat of a melody. They go on a major groundbreaking tour across the U.S.A with the Dead Boys. Soundmen run for the hills and hotel managers check their insurance policies!
Sonny records ‘Solo’ album with Sam, Jim and Mike from the group “Chain Gang”. Album is still unreleased.

1980 TESTORS releases a single titled “Time is Mine/Together” on Bleeker Bob’s “Drive-In” label. TESTORS does shows with the Cramps, Iggy Pop, Steel Tips, Suicide etc.
Following a series of intense episodes that include a fight with Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) live on New York radio (broadcast live from the new C.B.G.B. theater) and setting a fire onstage that got out of control (sprinklers turn on and the entire club with audience, band and equipment are soaked) Sonny is taken to Wingdale mental hospital upstate in New York for observation and treatment. After three months he is released and begins filmmaking. Along with filmmaking he is active as a multi media installation artist in New York City.

1981 Sonny leaves New York and moves to Minneapolis; forms SONNY VINCENT AND THE EXTREME with Mike Phillips, Jeff Rogers and Mort Baumann. Tours the U.S. as same. SONNY VINCENT AND THE EXTREME self-release a single “SVE” on an Eva-Tone flexi disk. This group, as most of Sonny’s later groups, had a “revolving” line up. Notable members are Chris Osgood (Suicide Commandos) and Luigi [aka Louis] (Luigi played with Johnny Thunders on the ROIR tape and toured with Johnny, Luigi also toured with Bo Diddley.)

1982 In 1982 he is arrested for wreckless driving, driving without a valid license, drug possession, assaulting police officers and resisting arrest. This gets him 8 months in jail.

1983 Recording with “Sonny Vincent and the Extreme”, involved in a performance art project that gets him banned from the grounds of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, receives a national “developing artist” grant to finance his filmmaking projects. Buys a Ford van with the grant money and tours the U.S. with his band.

1985 Sonny Vincent’s film “Mannequin World” is shown in Minneapolis on the TV show “Moondance”, in N.Y. at the Kitchen and also at various museums and art institutions around the U.S. Sonny does a major visual art installation in St. Paul, MN. It involves film, sound, light and sculptural elements, manipulating sensory perception. Collaborating with artists Susan Lucey (professor of art University of Minnesota)and Stan Shetka.

1986 Release of a Sonny Vincent solo single called “Lesson in Life”. This song charts in U.S. Indie stations and college radio charts. No.1 in Milwaukee, No. 8 in Minneapolis, etc.

1987 Sonny Vincent and Bob Stinson (former Replacements) form a group they call MODEL PRISONER. They mostly play in Minneapolis and do a couple of U.S. tours. The other members were: Mike Henderson, Eric Magistad, Jeff Rogers.

1988 MODEL PRISONER records an album at Twin Tone Studios. The band then consists of Sonny, Bob, Jim Michaels and Mike Henderson. After the group is denied access across the border to Canada, the group cancels a Canadian tour, goes back to Minnesota, gets drunk and decides to go to therapy sessions as a group. Bob and Sonny’s negligence in attending the first therapy session, prompts the others to leave the session and quit the band. Bob and Sonny get drunk.

1989 Sonny forms SHOTGUN RATIONALE. Records a debut-album called “Who Do They Think They Are?” with Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground) as producer. Sonny tours Europe with MOE TUCKER & HALF JAPANESE as their guitarist. (Half Japanese line up: Jad Fair, Hank Beckmeyer, John Sluggett and Joe Martinelli). SHOTGUN RATIONALE does a midwest tour. Sonny plays guitar on a U.S. tour with MOE TUCKER & HALF JAPANESE. SHOTGUN RATIONALE tours the U.S. and Canada. Bob Stinson and Cheetah Chrome both on guitar.

1990 Sonny tours Europe with MOE TUCKER. SHOTGUN RATIONALE releases the album “Who Do They Think They Are?” thanks to John Loder at Southern Studios. (Line up: Sonny, Mort Baumann, Mike Henderson and guest guitarist Cheetah Chrome.)

1991 SHOTGUN RATIONALE tour U.S. and Canada. Line up: S. Vincent – vocals, guitar; Gary Taylor – drums (ex-Tank); Greg Norton – bass (ex H?sker-D?); Paul Smith – guitar. Records album with MOE TUCKER “I Spent A Week There The Other Night” with Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Victor deLorenzo, Brian Ritchie, Don Fleming, John Sluggett and Daniel Hutchins. Tours Europe with MOE TUCKER (Mike Lehecka on bass). SHOTGUN RATIONALE releases EP on Dog Meat Records, Australia. SHOTGUN RATIONALE records new album “Beyond Rebellion”.

1992 SHOTGUN RATIONALE releases new album “Beyond Rebellion” in Europe.(Line up: Jamie Garner, Gary Taylor, Jim Michels). Successful tour in Germany with SR and also with MOE TUCKER & STERLING MORRISON throughout Europe as almost every year. SHOTGUN RATIONALE TV and Radio features. SONNY VINCENT – solo album called “Recordings 1979-91”. Comprised of various recordings made across the years, most tracks are exclusive. It is released on Vince Lombardy High School Records (out of Hamburg, Germany). SHOTGUN RATIONALE tours Europe two times. Line up one: Sonny, Gary Taylor, Chris Romanelli (ex Plasmatics), Jamie Garner (ex Leatherwoods) Line up two: Sonny, Gary Taylor, Paul Smith, Bob Stinson.

1993 SHOTGUN RATIONALE releases a new album called “Roller Coaster” with many guests: Cheetah Chrome (ex Dead Boys), Don Fleming (Gumball), Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker (VU), Scott Asheton (ex-Stooges), Richard Hell (Voidoids), Chris Romanelli (ex-Plasmatics) etc. In 1993 Sonny Vincent also has a band for a while in Holland called THE DONS with two dutch musicians (Egbert Hotz and Tjeerd Cannegieter). This year THE DONS begin recording an album.

1994 SHOTGUN RATIONALE tours Europe. Sonny plays guitar on MOE TUCKER’s new album release “Dogs Under Stress”. THE DONS tour in Germany, Austria, Switzerland. Recordings for SHOTGUN RATIONALE’S new album “Cocked”. Sonny tours in the U.S. with MOE TUCKER BAND (Sterling Morrison, Victor de Lorenzo etc.)

1995 THE DONS release debut-album “Naked”. Release of SONNY VINCENT’S SHOTGUN RATIONALE album “Cocked”. SHOTGUN RATIONALE tour Europe including Scandinavia and Spain. Line up: Sonny, Gary Taylor, Tony Leeuwenburgh (ex Loveslug, BGK) and Spencer P. Jones (Beasts Of Bourbon). “Incognito Records” releases previously unreleased TESTORS recordings “Original Punk Rock Recordings New York City 1976-1977 – The Testors”. Sonny tours the West Coast and Europe with MOE TUCKER. THE DONS tour europe. THE DONS release a single (unique in its non-usage of any special effects in the studio, such as compressors, limiters, gates, delays, etc.); released by Vince Lombardy High School Records, Hamburg, Germany.

1996 Sonny forms a group called SONNY VINCENT AND THE GUEVARAS. The line up of this group consists of comrades from various former line ups. They do a tour across Europe. More recording with THE DONS.

1997 Sonny releases a solo album called “Good Dogs Die Young” (on Noiseworks Records/Germany), featuring tracks recorded with THE DONS and an exclusive release of songs Sonny originally recorded late 70’s to early 80’s. Sonny Vincent puts together a project album, that he and the members in the line up had talked about for three years. The line up is: Scott Asheton (ex-Stooges), Captain Sensible (The Damned) and Cheetah Chrome (ex-Dead Boys). They record in Nashville, Tennessee, the band is called SONNY VINCENT AND HIS RAT RACE CHOIR. The album is called “Pure Filth” and it is released on a small label in Switzerland called “Overdose Records”. Sonny tours across Europe with Scott Asheton on drums and Steve Baise on bass (Devil Dogs). A single is released on “Flight 13 Records”, which includes two songs from the “Pure Filth” album and three songs previously recorded as MODEL PRISONER with Sonny Vincent and Bob Stinson. A new album is recorded in Detroit December 1997. It is produced by Ron Asheton (Stooges). The line up:
Sonny Vincent – vocals and guitar
Scott Asheton – drums
Captain Sensible – bass and guitar
Ron Asheton – guitar (on “French Music”)

1998 Sonny is recording in Berlin with two German musicians. Guitar parts and backing vocals by Wayne Kramer are added in L.A. The material is released on Incognito Records, Germany and other European labels. French record company Nest Of Vipers puts out HARD IN DETROIT. empty Records in Germany release the ‘Parallax in Wonderland’ album. In summer Sonny Vincent auditions more than 200 musicians for a European tour that takes place in fall.

1999 Sonny is touring Europe with two German musicians (Italy, France, Austria, Germany). Among the new material recorded is a cover version of the Stooges ?Search and Destroy? for a split single on Nest Of Vipers Records in France. More TESTORS recordings thought to be lost are found and prepared for a release.

2000 Touring France and Spain. “Parallax In Wonderland” is released in Spain and the U.S. Recordings in Germany for a new album “Hell’s Kitchen”, several new 7″ releases on various labels. Sonny also works as a producer for various bands.

2001 The year starts off with a turbulent and successful three month European Tour (Spain, France, Italy, Slowenia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium) with Spain’s Safety Pins as backing band. “Hell’s Kitchen” is released by Munster Records, Spain. Plans for a film script and a book take shape and the new album recorded in Detroit in fall/winter 2000 is being mixed.

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