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 professionally as Fred "Sonic" Smith, was an American guitarist, best known as a member of the influential and political, Detroit rock band, the MC5.[2] Later in life he married and raised a family with poet and fellow rock musician, Patti Smith. The couple collaborated musically, and raised two children together.


Smith was a guitarist with the MC5 and later went on to form Sonic's Rendezvous Band, which released one single, "City Slang", during Smith's lifetime.[3] In 1988 he collaborated with Patti Smith on her album Dream of Life.

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]

Together the Smiths had a son, Jackson (born 1982) and a daughter, Jesse (born 1987). Jackson, a guitarist, was married to Meg White (formerly of indie band The White Stripes).[5] Jesse is a pianist. Both have performed on stage with their mother along with other members of the Patti Smith Group.

A resident of St. Clair Shores, Michigan (a Detroit suburb), Fred Smith died in Detroit in 1994. While he had been in poor health for a number of years, 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]

Patti Smith has spoken of how Fred Smith encouraged her writing, crediting his influence on a number of the songs she released after his death, as well as the prose works she created during their time together in Michigan. He was the inspiration for her song "Frederick",[4] a single from her 1979 album Wave. Her 1996 album Gone Again features several songs inspired by, co-written by, or in 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]