Fred "Sonic" Smith

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Fred "Sonic" Smith
Birth name Frederick Dewey Smith
Born (1949-09-14)September 14, 1949
West Virginia, USA
Died November 4, 1994(1994-11-04) (aged 45)
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Genres Garage rock, hard rock, psychedelic rock, protopunk
Occupation(s) Guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass
Years active 1964–1988
Labels Rhino, Elektra
Associated acts MC5, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Patti Smith

Frederick Dewey Smith (September 14, 1949[1] – November 4, 1994), known as Fred "Sonic" Smith, was an American guitarist, best known as a member of the band MC5.[2]


Smith was a guitarist with MC5 and later went on to form Sonic's Rendezvous Band, which released one single, "City Slang", during Smith's lifetime.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Smith was born in West Virginia.[2]

He and his band opened a show for singer and poet Patti Smith.[4] Patti Smith's guitarist, Lenny Kaye, introduced Fred and Patti before the show. The two were married in 1980.[4] He and Smith collaborated on her 1988 album Dream of Life.

The Smiths had a son, Jackson (born 1982) and a daughter, Jesse (born 1987), who is a pianist and has performed on stage with her mother. Jackson was married to Meg White (formerly of indie band The White Stripes).[5]

A resident of St. Clair Shores, Michigan (a Detroit suburb), Fred Smith died in Detroit in 1994. The apparent cause was heart failure.[2]


In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Smith #93 in its list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[6]

He served as inspiration for Patti Smith who wrote to him, among other tributes, a song "Frederick".[4] Smith's 1996 album Gone Again features a tribute to her late husband.

The band Sonic Youth took its name from Smith's nickname.

Musical equipment[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fred "Sonic" Smith at Allmusic
  2. ^ a b c Strauss, Neil (9 November 1994), "Fred (Sonic) Smith, 44, Guitarist With Rock Bands of 3 Decades", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-01-14 
  3. ^ Shimamoto, Ken. "Lost and found: a short history". Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  4. ^ a b c McLeese, Don (2005). Kick out the Jams. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-8264-1660-5. 
  5. ^ "White Stripes drummer ties knot". BBC. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone. 18 September 2003. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 

External links[edit]