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March 10, 2012

San Jose Rocks: Count V, Inductee

by Kenn


How “San Jose” can you get? The eye-popping, black-and-white 1966 press photo for San Jose’s newest rock ‘n’ roll sensations-Count Five-was taken on the front lawn of the Winchester Mystery House with all five of the boys decked out in Count Dracula capes and puffy white shirts. You could almost see the ghost of Sarah Winchester in the background, rolling her eyes, then lowering her veil and tiptoeing back into her 160-room refuge.

Like the Syndicate of Sound before them, Count Five-lead singer and harmonica player Kenn Ellner, rhythm guitar/vocalist John “Sean” Byrne, lead guitarist John “Mouse” Michalski, bassist Roy Chaney and drummer Craig “Butch” Atkinson-would shock the world with one titanic hit, then spend the rest of its collective life either touring coast-to-coast or rolling tape in a recording studio, trying to find lightning in a bottle a second time.

“Psychotic Reaction,” a searing slice of garage rock, was the song that punched Count Five’s ticket to immortality. Credited to all five members, the tune was played as an instrumental for six months, reveals Ellner, before Sol Ellner, Kenn’s dad (and the band’s relentless manager), suggested that Byrne write some lyrics for it.

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