Monday, December 29, 2008
John Byrne, 1947-2008
John Byrne, lead singer and songwriter for the garage-punk band Count Five, which appropriately hit Number Five in 1966 with "Psychotic Reaction," dead at the age of 61. Byrne was born in Dublin and moved to San Jose at the age of 14, in 1961. He formed Count Five - true to their name, they wore Dracula-style capes onstage - with four of his buddies from San Jose's Pioneer High School.
"Psychotic Reaction" was released by the L.A. label Double Shot Records in July of 1966 (b/w "They're Gonna Get You"), when Byrne was only 19. The band eventually broke up when Byrne decided it was time to go to college to get his degree in accounting. He later worked as an accountant for Montgomery Ward, which he probably called, as everyone else did, "Monkey Ward," albeit with an Irish accent.
His dying words were, "The guy who wrote and sang 'Pushin' Too Hard' lives on."