The Music Machine was an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1966. Fronted by chief songwriter and lead vocalist, Sean Bonniwell.. The band cultivated a characteristically dark and rebellious image reflected with an untamed musical approach. Music critics considered them to be one of the groundbreaking acts of the 60s. Their style is recognized as a pioneering force in proto-punk; yet within a relatively short period of time they began to employ more complex lyrical and instrumental arrangements that went beyond the typical garage band format. The Music Machine’s hit, “Talk Talk” was arguably the most radical single to appear on mainstream radio. It was a huge hit here in Los Angeles but barely made it to the Top 20 on the national charts! The phenomenon described by music historians as a rally cry to social alienation with a mixture of sarcasm, rebellion, self-pity, and paranoia. “My social life’s a dud, my name is really mud, I’m up to here in lies, I guess I’m down to size.”!!!
Their music in many ways reflected the confusion, anger and the injustices of the world. Only in Los Angeles would a band so dark and ominous find popularity.. The original five-man lineup included Keith Olsen (Fleetwood Mac producer), known for wielding a fuzz box; an electronic device that altered his bass guitar sound.
The band’s success was largely due to Bonniwell, a gifted songwriter who penned torturous but catchy, riff-driven songs… Writers referred to him as “The Dark Prince of Garage Rock”.. They all wore black… dyed their hair black and did a pre “Michael Jackson” stunt of wearing one black glove… Bonniwell had composed “Talk Talk” a year prior to forming the band. The studio time was marked by The Music Machine’s collective input aimed toward tightening the structure of its arrangements, including the two-note fuzz guitar riff. The Music Machine’s hit was arguably the most radical single to appear on mainstream radio in 1966. The phenomenon was a rally cry to social alienation with a mixture of sarcasm, rebellion, self-pity, and paranoia”. Indeed, Bonniwell’s progressive lyrics and arrangements have been credited with influencing The Doors and Iron Butterfly as well as other punk bands.
Growing up as a teenager in the 50’s, a rock star in the 60’s, a guru in the 70’s and a born again Christian in the 80’s.. His life paralleled the decades of American change. He died at age 71 in Visalia, CA. from lung cancer..He was homeless and broke when he passed. The Music Machine was intended to be a counter-culture friendly rock and roll band.. Their legacy will claim that they were the first that cranked sonic distortion that was responsible for actually killing flying geese… The sound is still being investigated, rediscovered and replicated by generations past and present..and to think that “Talk Talk” was only one minute and 56 seconds.