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Music Machine singer, songwriter Sean Bonniwell dies

Lead singer of pioneering punk rock band the Music Machine

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LOS ANGELES • Sean Bonniwell, lead singer and songwriter of the Music Machine, a 1960s Los Angeles band regarded as one of the most original of the garage-punk era, has died. He was 71.

Mr. Bonniwell died Dec. 20, 2011, of lung cancer at a medical center in Visalia, Calif., said a spokesman for the Tulare County coroner.

A former folk singer, Mr. Bonniwell was recognized as the chief force behind the band that honed its sound during a regular gig at Hollywood Legion Lanes bowling alley. The group's one big hit was "Talk Talk," a proto-punk single that broke into the Top 20 in 1966.

It was "the most radical single" then on Top 40 radio, "garage psychedelia at its most experimental and outrageous," Richie Unterberger wrote in his 1998 book "Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll."

"Rock and roll was a teenager in the '60s, and I used that climate to express my confusion, my anger, at the injustice of the world," Mr. Bonniwell said in the book.

Although Mr. Bonniwell did not regard himself as "the grandfather of punk," he recognized that others did, he told Unterberger.

"The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders" viewed the Music Machine as one of "the most loved" but "least played garage bands of the 1960s."


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