The Sonics: Making a Boom in Tacoma

— by Kim Davenport

With a new school year beginning this week at UW Tacoma, the time has come for me to share the last of my posts relating to student work from last year’s iteration of my Musical History of Tacoma course. I freely admit that the title of this blog post is not mine, but rather is borrowed from the well-chosen title of UW Tacoma student MyMy Nguyen’s final paper and multimedia presentation.

Where to start when talking about The Sonics? One can marvel at the fact that this band, originally formed in 1963, is still going strong (after a hiatus or two) 55 years later – their website reveals that they are currently on a world tour – in Europe during October and back in the United States by November.

SonicsPosterMusicBlechaSeattle2008As a Tacoma music history enthusiast, it is fun to explore the fact that The Sonics’ worldwide fame was built on their signing by Etiquette Records, a label founded by another legendary Tacoma band, The Fabulous Wailers.

And then, of course, there is their undeniable influence on generations of musicians who would come after. The Sonics have been credited as having provided inspiration for the development of punk rock in both the U.S. and Europe, as well as the grunge movement in the Pacific Northwest.

But I’ll always come back to the idea that the best way to explore music – whether current or from the past – is through listening. So without further ado, here are some examples of The Sonics and their sound.

First, “The Witch,” a 1964 release:


Here is “Strychnine,” another of their top hits from the 1960s:


And finally, recorded at a live performance in Tacoma’s historic Pantages Theater decades after its original release, here is “Psycho”:



Further reading:

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