R.I.P. John Byrne (Count Five)

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Count Five, "Psychotic Reaction"

Here comes sad news that will bring down us dancing drunken fools who make our way up to Boondocks every third Saturday for Reverberation. John Byrne, lead singer of Nuggets mainstays the Count Five, has passed away at the age of 61.

The San Jose-based band's biggest hit, 1966's "Psychotic Reaction" is now a garage-rock staple, a real dance-ready harmonica freak-out. Anytime someone makes a definitive '60s garage compilation, you can count on this track making an appearance along with their peers like the Standells and the Seeds. Rock journalist Christ-figure Lester Bangs championed the Five extensively during his career, even titling landmark essay "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" after the band's hit, and check out Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' live cover here

The Five had a pseudo-goth feel, before bands like the Cramps could even buy cigarettes. They were known to wear Dracula-style capes on stage and drive to gigs in a converted hearse. Like many bands in the mid-'60s, the Count Five didn't last too long, undone by changing tastes, and you know, the '60s. Byrne and the rest of the band only reconvened to accept various awards and play the odd one-off nostalgia gig. - Craig Hlavaty 

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Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


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