Sonny Ochs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sonia "Sonny" Ochs is a music producer and radio host. She is known for the "Phil Ochs Song Nights" she organizes, at which various musicians sing the songs of her brother, singer-songwriter Phil Ochs.

Ochs was born in Scotland on April 12, 1937, to an American father and Scottish mother. The following year, her family moved to the United States.[1] Her brother Phil was born in 1940, followed by Michael in 1943.[2] The Ochs family moved frequently: to San Antonio, Texas, then to Austin, Texas; to Far Rockaway, New York, and then to Perrysburg in upstate New York.[3]

After she graduated from high school, Ochs was sent by her parents to a finishing school in Switzerland. While she was away, the family moved to Columbus, Ohio.[4] Ochs married a soldier in early 1957, but the couple were divorced by 1963.[5] The couple had one child: Robyn. She later remarried and had two sons: David and Jonathan. [6]

In January 1976, Phil Ochs—who was suffering from alcoholism and bipolar disorder—moved to his sister's Far Rockaway, New York, home. She hoped she could nurture him back to health. He saw a psychiatrist who prescribed medication; he told his sister he was taking it.[7] On April 9, 1976, Phil Ochs hanged himself in the bathroom of Sonny's house.[8]

Ochs was a school teacher in Far Rockaway and upstate New York.[9][10] Since the 1980s, she has hosted her own radio program, currently on WIOX, and volunteered at numerous folk festivals.[11] Since 1983, she has organized a series of "Phil Ochs Song Nights", concerts at which various musicians perform her brother's songs. Some of the performers have included Greg Greenway, Kim and Reggie Harris, Pat Humphries, Magpie, Fred Small, and Sammy Walker.[10][12][13]

Interviews with Ochs and her brother Michael were featured in the 2010 documentary film Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune. The film, which focuses on both Phil's life and the turbulent times in which he lived, also features interviews with his friends and associates, as well as extensive archival news footage from the 1960s.[14][15]


  1. ^ Schumacher, Michael (1996). There But for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs. New York: Hyperion. pp. 11, 15, 349. ISBN 0-7868-6084-7. 
  2. ^ Schumacher, pp. 12, 16.
  3. ^ Schumacher, pp. 20, 23.
  4. ^ Eliot, Marc (1989) [1979]. Death of a Rebel: A Biography of Phil Ochs. New York: Franklin Watts. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-531-15111-5. 
  5. ^ Eliot, pp. 16, 53.
  6. ^ Cohen, David (1999). Phil Ochs: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 43. ISBN 0-313-31029-7. 
  7. ^ After Phil Ochs's death, Ochs found he had been lying about taking his medication. Schumacher, p. 349.
  8. ^ Schumacher, pp. 344–352.
  9. ^ Brosh, Brendan (May 28, 2004). "Far Rock Native Marries Life Partner". Wave of Long Island. Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Jarvey, Paul (October 24, 1993). "Phil Ochs' Sister and Friends Keep His Ideals, Music Alive". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  11. ^ Eliot, p. 299.
  12. ^ "Musicians Kim, Reggie Harris, Magpie, Sonny Ochs to Speak/Perform at University of Rhode Island on October 24". US Fed News Service. October 20, 2006. Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ochs' Songs at Stone Soup". The Providence Journal. October 11, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  14. ^ Holden, Stephen (January 4, 2011). "Aspiring to Musical Power and Glory". The New York Times: C6. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  15. ^ Amy, Goodman (January 6, 2011). "Phil Ochs: The Life and Legacy of a Legendary American Folk Singer". Democracy Now!. Retrieved January 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]