John Byrne, the lead singer of garage-rock band Count Five and the writer of their 1966 hit “Psychotic Reaction,” died on December 15th following kidney and liver failure in San Jose, California. He was 61. Inspired by the Yardbirds’ “I’m a Man,” “Psychotic Reaction” peaked at Number 5 on the Billboard charts and became a radio staple during the Vietnam War era. “Psychotic Reaction” was also listed among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll.
The song proved to be the band’s biggest hit, as the band broke up in 1969 so its members could pursue college educations. “Psychotic” lived on as a live staple for bands like Television, the Cramps and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who included a cover version on their Playback box set. Byrne went on to become an accountant but never stopped playing music, even forming the Count with some former Count Five bandmates in 2002. The Count Five reunited for one night only in 1987, and were among the first inductees into the San Jose Rock Hall of Fame in 2006.