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Fred Sonic Smith

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Birth name  Frederick Dewey Smith
Instruments  Guitar, vocals, bass
Labels  Rhino, Elektra
Role  Guitarist
Occupation(s)  Guitarist, songwriter
Years active  1964–1988
Name  Fred Smith
Born  September 14, 1949West Virginia, USA (1949-09-14)
Genres  Garage rock, hard rock, psychedelic rock, protopunk
Died  November 4, 1994, Detroit, Michigan, United States
Spouse  Patti Smith (m. 1980–1994)
Children  Jackson Smith, Jesse Smith
Music groups  MC5 (1963 – 1972), Sonic's Rendezvous Band (1975 – 1980)
Similar People  Patti Smith, Rob Tyner, Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, Dennis Thompson

Fred Sonic Smith & Wayne Kramer (MC5) - Live in Bataclan, Paris (1972)

Frederick Dewey Smith (September 14, 1949 – 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. 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. In 1988 he collaborated with Patti Smith on her album Dream of Life.

Personal life

Smith was born in West Virginia.


He and his band opened a show for singer and poet Patti Smith. Patti Smith's guitarist, Lenny Kaye, introduced Fred and Patti before the show. The two were married in 1980.


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). 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.



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

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", 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

  • Rickenbacker 450 with Gibson PAF pickups
  • Epiphone Crestwood
  • Mosrite Guitars
  • Gretsch Country Gentleman
  • Amplification
  • Marshall Amplifer
  • Fender Super Reverb
  • Songs

    Kick Out the Jams
    Shakin' Street
    I Want You Right Now
    Ramblin' Rose
    Looking at You
    The Human Being Lawnmower
    Teenage Lust
    Miss X
    Baby Won't Ya
    Back in the USA
    Motor City Is Burning
    Sister Anne
    Let Me Try
    The American Ruse
    Rocket Reducer No 62
    Gotta Keep Movin'
    Come Together
    Call Me Animal
    Over and Over
    Intros / Ramblin' Rose
    19th Nervous Breakdown
    Unknowed Rock
    Tall / Rocket Reducer No 62
    High School
    I Just Don't Know


    Fred "Sonic" Smith Wikipedia

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