The Music Machine (1965–1969) was an American garage rock and psychedelic (sometimes referred to as garage punk) band from the late 1960s, headed by singer-songwriter Sean Bonniwell and based in Los Angeles. The band sound was often defined by fuzzy guitars and a Farfisa organ. Their original look consisted of all-black clothing, (dyed) black moptop hairstyles and a single black glove.
The group came together as The Ragamuffins in 1965, but became The Music Machine in 1966. In addition to Bonniwell, the original line-up consisted of Ron Edgar (drums), Mark Landon (guitar), Keith Olsen (bass), and Doug Rhodes (organ).
Their debut album, “(Turn On) The Music Machine”, was released in 1966 on the Original Sound label. Seven of the twelve tracks were originals, written by Bonniwell. One of these, “Talk Talk”, became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. The follow-up single, “The People In Me”, peaked at No. 66. Bonniwell blamed the weak showing of this single on a supposed feud between the band’s manager and a top record executive. Four cover songs were included on this release, due to record company pressure.
After a promotional tour of the U.S., the rest of the original line-up (Edgar, Landon, Olsen, and Rhodes) left Bonniwell, due to internal conflicts. Rhodes and Edgar subsequently teamed with Curt Boettcher and others to record as part of The Ballroom and The Millennium.
In 1967, Music Machine (essentially only Bonniwell at this point) were signed to Warner Bros. and renamed The Bonniwell Music Machine. The name was changed to give more prominence to the band’s core member, songwriter and vocalist. A self-titled LP was released that year, made up mostly of previously recorded singles with the original line-up. The recording spawned no big hits, despite the inclusion of a few more pop-oriented songs.
A third Music Machine album was recorded but never released. In 2000, a Bonniwell Music Machine album called “Ignition” was released on Sundazed Records. This is a collection of songs from the unreleased 1969 album, as well as demo tracks from the band’s Raggamuffin days in 1965.
In 1996, Bonniwell self-published a memoir called “Talk Talk”, which was later revised and re-titled “Beyond The Garage”, published by the small press Christian Vision. He died of lung cancer on December 20, 2011.
THE MUSIC MACHINE (1966):
Sean Bonniwell – Lead Vocals
Mark Landon – Guitar
Keith Olsen – Bass
Doug Rhodes – Organ
Ron Edgar – Drums