The Music Machine

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The Music Machine
The Music Machine.png
The Music Machine in 1966
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Garage rockpsychedelic rock
Years active 1965–1969
Labels Original Sound, Warner Bros.
Associated acts The Millennium
Members Sean Bonniwell
Ron Edgar (drums)
Mark Landon (guitar)
Keith Olsen (bass)
Doug Rhodes (organ)

The Music Machine (1965–1969) was an American garage rock and psychedelic (sometimes referred to as garage punk) band from the late 1960s, headed by singer-songwriter Sean Bonniwell and based in Los Angeles, California. The band sound was often defined by fuzzy guitars and a Farfisa organ. Their original look consisted of all-black clothing, (dyed) black moptop hairstyles and a single black glove.


Beginnings and success[edit]

The group came together as The Ragamuffins in 1965, but became known as The Music Machine in 1966. This reflected upon the amount of material the band produced for their live performances. In addition to Bonniwell, the original line-up consisted of Ron Edgar (drums), Mark Landon (guitar), Keith Olsen (bass), and Doug Rhodes (organ). The band made a name for itself by performing in local clubs in Los Angeles. Alongside their signature uniforms, the band gained acclaim for Bonniwell's instruction of tuning their instruments lower than usual which created a heavier sound.[1] Regarding the band's harder rock sound, Bonniwell stated "...the conservative music style of the times built up in me a frustration that I could really do nothing to stop from releasing".[2]

The band caught the attention of record producer Brian Ross. Ross recorded the band's first two tracks for their debut single which was picked up for a release. The single "Talk Talk"/"Come On In" became a hit when it charted at #15. Following their rising success, the band toured to promote the sIngle, but we're forced to hastily record their debut album when touring ceased. Bonniwell expressed his disapproval by saying "...we recorded the Turn On album after a 30 day tour. Mark's fingers were literally bleeding. I could hardly speak, much less sing".[1] Their debut album, (Turn On) The Music Machine, was released on December 31, 1966 on the Original Sound label.[3] Seven of the twelve tracks were originals, written by Bonniwell.[4] The follow-up single, "The People In Me"/"Masculine Intuition", peaked at No. 66.[5] Bonniwell blamed the weak showing of this single on a supposed feud between the band's manager and a top record executive. Four cover songs were included on this release, due to record company pressure. One of which was "Hey Joe". Bonniwell sought to release a version of the song before Jimi Hendrix did, but with the feud the ambition was delayed. Hendrix scored a hit with his cover, while The Music Machine's went unnoticed.[6]

Bonniwell Music Machine[edit]

There were considerations to initiate a European tour and accepting a spot at the Monterey Pop Festival. The festival, in particular, was highly influential and the group was interested in involvement, but management turned down all the offers. Instead, the band was overextended as it toured all over the U.S. in a poor-planned schedule. After the promotional tour of the U.S., the rest of the original line-up (Edgar, Landon, Olsen, and Rhodes) left Bonniwell, due to internal conflicts. Rhodes and Edgar subsequently teamed with Curt Boettcher and others to record as part of The Ballroom and The Millennium.[1]

In 1967, Music Machine (essentially only Bonniwell at this point) were signed to Warner Bros. and renamed The Bonniwell Music Machine. The name was changed to give more prominence to the band's core member, songwriter and vocalist. A self-titled LP was released that year, made up mostly of previously recorded singles with the original line-up. Session musicians were also utilized, but they were disinterested with Bonniwell's experimental sound, and only sought to do the bare minimum. As a result, Bonniwell spent hours dubbing and mastering recordings, an activity he normally did not want to be a part of, to meet his intended designs. Bonniwell admitted that chemistry with the musicians was inadequate and that he missed his former bandmates.[1] The recording spawned no big hits, despite the inclusion of a few more pop-oriented songs.[7]

A third Music Machine album was recorded but never released. In 2000, a Bonniwell Music Machine album called Ignition was released on Sundazed Records. This is a collection of songs from the unreleased 1969 album, as well as demo tracks from the band's Raggamuffin days in 1965. After the unreleased third album, The Music Machine officially disbanded in 1969. Bonniwell went on to record a final solo album, but it was commercially unsuccessful. He ultimately took a long hiatus from music, even though Bonniwell is said to have written nearly 300 compositions during The Music Machine era.[8]

In 1996, Bonniwell self-published a memoir called Talk Talk, which was later revised and re-titled Beyond The Garage, published by the small press Christian Vision. He died of lung cancer on December 20, 2011.[4][9]

In the 1990s, U.K. psychedelic folk rock band The Mysteated were heavily influenced by The Music Machine sound, and Bonniwell's writing style.

Ron Edgar died on February 23, 2015 at the age of 68.[10][11]


Studio albums
  • (Turn On) The Music Machine (1966)
  • The Bonniwell Music Machine (1967)
Extended plays
  • Talk Talk (1967)
Compilation albums
  • The Best of The Music Machine (1984)
  • The Music Machine (1994)
  • Beyond the Garage (1995)
  • Rock 'N' Roll Hits (1997)
  • Turn On: The Best of the Music Machine (1999)
  • Ignition (2000)
  • The Ultimate Turn On (2006)
  • "Talk Talk" / "Come On In" (1966)
  • "The People in Me" / "Masculine Intuition" (1967)
  • "Double Yellow Line" / "Absolutely Positively" (1967)
  • "The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly" / "I've Loved You" (1967)
  • "Hey Joe" / "Taxman" (1967)
  • "Advise and Consent" / "Mother Nature, Father Earth" (1969)
As The Bonniwell Music Machine
  • "Bottom of the Soul" / "Astrologically Incompatible" (1967)
  • "Me, Myself And I" / "Soul Love" (1968)
  • "Tin Can Beach" / "Time Out for a Daydream" (1968)
  • "You'll Love Me Again" / "To The Light" (1968)
  • "Point of No Return" (1997)


  1. ^ a b c d Richie Unterberger. "Unknown Legends of Rock 'N' Roll". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ Richie Unterberger. "Sean Bonniwell Interview". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ "(Turn On) The Music Machine". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Valerie J. Nelson (December 29, 2011). "Sean Bonniwell dies at 71; lead singer of the Music Machine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Music Machine - Billboard Charts". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  6. ^ Sean Bonniwell. "Beyond the Garage". 
  7. ^ Richie Unterberger. "Bonniwell Music Machine - Review". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Sean Bonniwell of the Music Machine Passes Away". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  9. ^ Associated Press (December 30, 2011). "Sean Bonniwell, Singer in the Music Machine, Dies at 71". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ The Music of Michael Fennelly, 24 February 2015
  11. ^ "Ronald '(Ron)' Edgar". Retrieved March 26, 2015. 

External links[edit]