Count V’s “Psychotic Reaction” has been lauded as a classic example of psychedelic rock and a forerunner of punk and garage rock. What’s undeniable is the fresh, exciting sound of the San Jose, California band’s 1966 hit.
Count V were five teens, some still in high school, who formed in 1964. The band was turned down by seven record companies before newly-formed label Double Shot signed them. The band members — lead singer and rhythm guitarist John “Sean” Byrne, harmonica player Kenn Ellner, lead guitarist John “Mouse” Michalski, bassist Roy Chaney and Craig “Butch” Atkinson — shared in the writing of “Psychotic Reaction.” The song was performed without lyrics for six months until Ellner’s father Sol, the band’s manager, suggested that Byrne put words to the music.
Michalski told Mike Dugo that “Byrne was the band’s tunesmith. John was the man who came up with the songs, and we’d all add to them. That’s how we became a group. Then he’d write the lyrics, which he was good at.”
The song’s title was hatched during a lecture on psychosis and neurosis at San Jose City College when a pal of Byrne’s whispered, “Do you know what would be a great name for a song? Psychotic Reaction!”