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Sonny Vincent
Vocalist, Guitarist, Songwriter
A Personal History

1975-1976- Sonny Vincent forms the group TESTORS.

They play ‘Max’s Kansas City’ and C.B.G.B. as a three piece.

Two guitars and drums, no bass.

Sonny Vincent - Vocals and Guitar

Gene Sinigalliano - Guitar

Gregory R - (Gregory Lapina)- Drums

1977- Testors performs shows in N.Y.C. at CBGB's and Max's Kansas City with ‘Mink DeVille, ‘Teenage Jesus & The Jerks’,’ The Cramps’, ‘Dead Boy’s and others. Later in the year they begin headlining. This year Sonny spends some time in jail. A special ‘reform school’ for underage criminals. Labelled by the court as a 'PINS case' (person in need of supervision), his infractions include trespassing, destruction of city property and drug possession.

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

1978 TESTORS – Gregory leaves. The drummer gets in some violent situations and leaves town. Testors bring Jeff Couganhaur (West) from Cleveland in on drums and add a bass player to the band. The bass player's name is Ron Pieniak, a surrealistic painter/artist, a good friend of Sonny and Gene. Ron (Rex Pharaoh) lived with Gene in the Testors loft. Ron's stint with Testors although short-lived was the first version of Testors with a bass. Ron also designed many of the flyers used to promote their shows in New York City. After a few months of playing shows with Testors Ron gets seriously stabbed in the subway wearing his original ‘Kill Me’ T-Shirt. The design for his shirt came directly from his surrealistic painting of the same name. Following the stabbing incident Ron moves back to Florida.

1979 TESTORS Play more shows and add a new bass player Kenneth Brighton. Sonny begins 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. A very insane tour!

1980 TESTORS releases a single titled ‘Time is Mine/Together’ on Bleeker Bob's "Drive-In" label. TESTORS play shows with the Cramps, Iggy Pop, Steel Tips, Suicide etc.

1980 Sonny confined for observation.

Following a series of intense episodes that include a fist fight with Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) live on New York radio (broadcast on W.P.L.J. from the new C.B.G.B. theater), setting a fire onstage of C.B.G.B’s that gets out of control (sprinklers turn on and club, audience, bands and equipment are soaked). Sonny is taken to Wingdale mental hospital upstate in New York for observation and therapy. 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.

1980 Testors breaks up.

1980 Sonny leaves New York City and moves to Minneapolis.

He forms SONNY VINCENT AND THE EXTREME with Mike Phillips, Jeff Rogers and Mort Baumann. They tour the U.S. and issue a self-release single ‘SVE’ on an Eva-Tone flexi disk (inspired by the records in the National Geographic magazine). This group, as most of Sonny's later groups, had a revolving line up. Other notable members are Chris Osgood (Suicide Commandos) and Luigi [aka Louis] (Luigi played with Johnny Thunders on the ROIR tape, toured with Johnny, and also toured with Bo Diddley.)

1981- In Minnesota he is arrested again for reckless driving, driving without a valid license, drug possession, assaulting police officers and resisting arrest. Jail time.

1982 Recording with ‘Sonny Vincent and the Extreme’ And is 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.

1983 Sonny Vincent's film ‘Mannequin World’ is shown in Minneapolis on the TV show ‘Moondance’, in N.Y.C at ‘The Kitchen’ and at various museums and art institutions around the U.S.

1984-85 Sonny creates and builds a major visual arts installation in St. Paul, MN. Involving film, sound, light and sculptural elements, manipulating sensory perception. Collaborating with artists Susan Lucey (Professor of Art, University of Minnesota) and Professor Stan Shetka. During this time Sonny also is busy creating sound tracks for filmmakers and Theater productions

1986 Release of Sonny Vincent’s solo single ‘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 MODEL PRISONER - 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, and Jeff Rogers.

1988 MODEL PRISONER records an album at Twin Tone Studios. The band then consists of Sonny, Bob, Jim Michels and Mike Henderson.The second line up is with Jeff Rogers and Eric Magistad. After the group is denied access across the border to Canada, they have to cancel a Canadian tour and drive back to Minnesota. Although there was a definite musical influence from Bob Stinson in this line up, there was also the ever-present ‘drinking’ influence. On their arrival back in Mpls the band gets drunk and decides they must go to therapy sessions as a group to try and resolve some of the problems stemming from all the drinking! 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 again and Sonny gets arrested for (allegedly) assaulting Police Officers. But before bringing him to jail the police have to take him to the emergency room because they beat him so badly he was nearly dead (this was 3 nights before the Rodney King thing happened in L.A.)

1989 Sonny forms SHOTGUN RATIONALE With Mort Baumann and Mike Henderson they record a debut-album called ‘Who Do They Think They Are?’ in Atlanta Georgia with Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground) as producer.

1989 - Sonny tours Europe with MOE TUCKER & HALF JAPANESE as their guitarist. (Half Japanese line up: Jad Fair, Hank Beckmeyer, John Sluggett and Joe Martinelli).

1989 SHOTGUN RATIONALE Midwest tour. Sonny plays guitar on a U.S. tour with MOE TUCKER & HALF JAPANESE. SHOTGUN RATIONALE plays various shows and tours the U.S. and Canada with various line ups. One in particular had 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 tours U.S. and Canada. Line up: Sonny Vincent - vocals, guitar, Gary Taylor - drums (Tank), Greg Norton - bass (Hüsker-Dü), Paul Smith – guitar (Gutter Sluts).

Sonny records on an album with MOE TUCKER in N.Y.C. called ‘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 album Beyond Rebellion in Europe. (Line up: Jamie Garner, Gary Taylor, and Jim Michels). Successful touring in Germany with SR and also a European tour with MOE TUCKER & STERLING MORRISON. 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 ,Released on Vince Lombardy High School Records (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 album ‘Roller Coaster’ with many guests: Cheetah Chrome (ex Dead Boys), Don Fleming (Gumball), Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker (VU), Scott Asheton (Stooges), Richard Hell (Voidoids), Chris Romanelli (Plasmatics) and more. In 1993 Sonny Vincent also has a band for a while in Holland called THE DONS with two Dutch musicians (Egbert Hotz and Jeerc Cannepooper). THE DONS begin recording an album.

1994 SHOTGUN RATIONALE tours Europe. Sonny plays guitar on MOE TUCKER's new album release ‘Dogs Under Stress’ in Georgia. THE DONS tour in Germany, Austria, and 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 Sonny Tours with The Dons, Moe Tucker and Shotgun Rationale

Along with Eppie Hotz on Drums and Jeerc Cannepooper on Bass the ‘Dons’ debut their-album ‘Naked’ and tour Europa.

Subway Records releases the ‘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 continue to 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 A special line up forms 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.

Later this year Sonny 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 (Stooges), Captain Sensible (The Damned) and Cheetah Chrome (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 ‘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 records in Berlin with two German musicians, Jimmy Warwas and ‘Blacky’.

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 in Los Angeles for a European tour that takes place in the fall. The L.A. musicians are Bobby Breton and Mikey D.

1999 Sonny Vincent solo Tour of Europe with Stephan G. (Johnny Rio) on Bass and Bernward .K. (The Bishop) on Drums. They play Italy, France, Austria and Germany. Among the new material recorded by the trio 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. ‘Rave Up’ Records releases Testors Material. 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 This year a three month European Tour Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium with Spain's Safety Pins as backing band. And the German Line up. ‘Hell's Kitchen’ is released by Munster Records, Spain.

2002 Recordings made in Detroit with Scott Asheton and Captain Sensible are being mixed.

2003 Release of the Album ‘The Good,The Bad and The Ugly’ simultaneously on Empty Records, Germany, Munster Records, Spain and Acetate Records in the US.

2003 Swami Records releases ‘Testors Complete’

A Double CD and Double Vinyl edition of the complete TESTORS comes out on Swami Records.

2003 Sonny tours the U.S. with Rocket from the Crypt. The RFTC guys are Sonny's backing band on his set and then play their own show. Also on the bill: The Spits from Seattle.

2003 Touring Europe with Ivan and Bobby Steele

After the U.S. tour with RFTC there's a successful and wild European tour. Members of the Euro tour include Ivan Julian from Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Bobby Steele from the Misfits. Notable events: The van gets broke into in Dublin and 8 videotapes from live shows amongst other things are gone forever.

Uzi the drummer goes to the embassy to get his passport renewed and makes the mistake of putting a bag of garbage into a box that is actually for newspapers. The police were called and the bomb squad were called in, the entire building was emptied out until they found out it was Uzi's innocent little garbage bag.

Sonny gets arrested for smashing a decibel meter. The decibel meter is a handheld device to measure how loud the music is. Sonny took and smashed it. After being arrested he said: "Of course I smashed it, that's an anti-rocknroll device... I'm supposed to smash those, right?"

2004 –2008 Albums, Touring, Filmmaking

Some notes for events between 2004-2008-

Various tours and shows

U.S./ Canada tour with-

Tony Fate on Guitar (Bellrays)

Roy Morgan on Drums (Lazy Cowgirls)

Billy The Kid on Bass


Serbian Tour with-

Johnny Rio on Guitar

Bishop on Drums

Simon ‘Baby Face Nelson’ on Bass


Scandinavian Tour with

Johnny Rio on Guitar

Bobby Breton on Drums

Billy The Kid on Bass


Albums recorded and released:

‘Soul Mates’ Disturbed Records (Germany)

‘P.I.N.S’ NDN Records (U.S.A.)

‘Switchblade Summer’ Nest Of Vipers Records (France)

‘Testors Live’ Incognito Records/Rekord Records (Germany)

Semper Fidelis’ Anthology Rockin’ Bones (Italy)


P.S. Only one ‘arrest’ during this time period! In 2007 Sonny is caught by the French Police buying a bit of Hash near the train station. They arrest him and jail him for 24 hours. After spending the night sleeping on the floor Sonny leaves the jail but first stops at the front desk and asks if any of the police ever heard of a guy named Jimi Hendrix “I suppose you would have liked to jail him for life!”


2008 The Journey Continues

Sonny is contacted by three Italian musicians about playing some shows. He goes to Italy to meet them and play some of his songs. Shows are booked for Italy.

Upcoming Shows-

‘Sonny Vincent And The Backsliders’ In Italy

December 10, 11. And 12. 2008

Sonny Vincent And The Backsliders

Line up-

Sonny - Guitar and Vocals

Ricardo - Bass and Vocals

Antonio - Drums

Vincenzo - Guitar


Upcoming releases:

‘Sonny Vincent And The Dudes’

Recorded in San Diego with RFTC

‘Sonny Vincent And Bob Stinson’

Recorded In Minneapoils Minnesota at Twin Tone

P.I.N.S Review by the Barman

P.I.N.S. - Sonny Vincent (NDN Records) Punk rock's Mr Perpetual Motion, Sonny Vincent, regrets that most folks only know him for his impossibly fiery, arse-kicking albums or the ones graced by more stars than you can poke a telescope at. Those regrets are highly qualified, of course, by the fact that plenty of labels are lining up to put out his stuff. Long may it be the case. The star-studded "The Good The Bad The Ugly" WAS like a punk rock version of Who magazine without paparazzi pictures or Hollywood weight loss stories, and with infinitely more substance. So while luminaries line up to lend a hand - and Scott Asheton, Steve Baise, Wayne Kramer, Scott Morgan, Captain Sensible and Bob Stinson are some of the names on the latest one - Sonny would be a mug to say no, wouldn't he? While it might irk to be regarded as purely a kicker of significant jams when there's an album of ballads in the can, ready to roll out, the undeniable fact is that Sonny spits out albums of intense anger, extreme power and raw intensity that few, if any, come within a bull's roar of matching. Hence pigeonholing is inevitable. It's a Good Day For Rock when another Sonny long-player makes it onto the racks and for every detractor, disbeliever or ignoramus out there, there's a fan who's hip to this fact and only too ready to tug the leather jacket of the aforementioned and tell them to wake the fuck up and smell the ashtray before their nose ends up in it. More evangelical raving soon but first some facts: "P.I.N.S." stands for "Person In Need of Supervision", an American law enforcement term for juvenile offenders (a category a wayward Sonny found himself in after being incarcerated for possession of two joints). It's a double CD set of 41 songs plus Noam Chomsky sound bites, just to mix things up. The 40-page booklet art (much of it in 3D) is graced by Kiekergaard quotations and the visual talents of late American underground artist/tattooist Mad Marc Rude. It comes with a set of 3-D glasses. Disc one is 14 studio cuts. The second ("Gems") is live, demo and studio nuggets Sonny had sitting in the cupboard. Enough of the prelims, onto the Main Event, and “P.I.N.S.” is right up there with Sonny’s meisterwerk, “Parallax Wonderland”, as a head-kicking, foaming storm of anger and guitar bile. Sonny doesn’t so much play guitar as thrash it within an inch of its life. Nice guy he may be in person, but put him in front of a microphone, with a power of amplification moving the air behind him, and Sonny Vincent is a ball of pissed-off fury with raw, passionate vocals and three chords his weapons of choice. Texan label NDN has done itself proud even if "P.I.N.S." seemed to have a gestation period to rival one of their former State Governor's mangled State of the Union addresses. The book is chockfull of pictures and scads of lyrics. Just getting this much Sonny in one package was a thrill. The wait was worth it. “Evil Twin” is as fitting an icebreaker as you could ask for, from its “C’mon motherfucker!” spoken opening preamble to its acrid lead-break and barely constrained vocal. Sonny is his Evil Twin and if you want to hazard a guess at some of the demons, within and without, that are driving the guy, go right ahead, it’s on your dime. "Twilight (Starry Eyes, Starry Night)" is a promise to be true that namedrops Roky and Jeffrey Lee, striking the balance of rawness and bittersweet vocal melody that sets Sonny apart from all those garden variety two-chord thrashers. Mr Vincent is foremost a rocker and then a punk, which is a way of saying he has his chops down as well as being able to tap raw emotion. Many try, not all succeed. "Shoot the TV", on the other hand, is a brutal street thug of a song, recorded in a Long Beach shipping container with pick handles and chainsaws for instruments. The same goes for "Interview". Handle both with care. The perfectly-titled "Struttin Around" is a chunky piece of bravado, recorded with a guy aptly named John Strutt on drums. It's one of my fave songs on the album. As close a cousin "P.I.N.S." is to "Parallax", it could easily double as a second volume of "The Good The Bad The Ugly" with many of the guitar slingers reprising guest spots. Wayne Kramer adds lead and fills to "Sweet to Me" and Scott Morgan does likewise on "Think For Yourself". Brian James is on "Good Day For Rock" (previously only available as a novelty split single on NDN that I'd be afraid to put into my jukebox because it had saw-teeth). Scott Asheton and Captain Sensible bob up on "Right On". If you had to pick a core, it'd be lesser lights like the redoubtable Johnny Rio and Acetate Records head Rick Ballard on guitars. I'm sure the Ricky Ricardo credited on bass on several cuts is not the late husband of Lucille Ball but I better check and get back to ya... Of course once you're done with Disc One there's the dessert of "Gems" to tuck into and there's ample to keep Sonny fans interested. Sonic quality varies but generally isn't too bad. Rocket From the Crypt back up Sonny on a couple of radio WMBR live-to-air songs ("You Don't Break My Heart", "Bad Attitude" and a frantic "Madras Prison"). The superb cover of Chuck Berry's "Carol" is the final studio appearance by late NY Doll Killer Kane, with Rock Ballard (guitar) and Clem Burke (drums) making up an all-star cast. It's here that you can appreciate the other side of Sonny with a smattering of less tightly-wound tunes and semi-realised demos ("Cinematic Suicide") bobbing up among the hand grenades. Replacements heads will search out the two lo-fi but spirited cuts with Bob Stinson ("My Expression" and "Wheel of My Fortune"). As an introduction this is superb value. Many highlights and enough depth and variety to keep any punk at heart engrossed. Now go out and grab some Sonny. This is the Real Deal. - The Barman