Jeff Reese

Please Help Sonny Vincent and His Family

Photo by Eric Guyot

Tragedy has struck musician Sonny Vincent’s family and he needs your help. If you can, please donate to the GoFundMe page.


On January 3rd, 2016, an explosion ripped through an apartment complex in Barnardsville, North Carolina. Injured in the blaze were Robert Ventura, Sarah Ventura, and nine-year-old Cayden Ventura. Sarah suffered burns on 80% of her body; her son and her husband both have burns on 50% of their bodies.

Cayden’s grandfather is the punk legend Sonny Vincent. On the afternoon of January 13th, Sonny put out this post asking for help (I won’t include the photos as they’re quite graphic and the grammatical errors are very understandable given the circumstances):

“Urgent family tragedy. Please help and please share. Dear facebook friends, my immediate family was in a gas explosion and fire. My son, his wife and my 9 ear old grandson are on life support and fighting for their lives. I flew here immediately and arrived with only my clothes on my back and no resources.I am caring for them night and day but need money for transportation,lodging food, etc. I’m sorry to post these photos , but I need to show how desperate and serious this is. My other grandson and I are going to make a fundme account very soon but that has not been possible because of time we are needed in the hospital 24/7. (Please dont make accounts, we will do it.) For now the best and fastest way to help us is to send me any money, donations that you can to my paypal account, you know me , i would never ask if this was not urgent. Sorry for the graphic photos. my heart is breaking, They are covered in 3rd degree burns over 50% of their bodies and the Mom has 90%. The chance of survival has been estimated by the main surgeon as 25 to 10%. They are all fighting for their lives, on life support. Please help me. Please send donations to my paypal account, again sorry for the graphic photos. This is a challenge, I need you.-Sonny…/Two-Fires-Overnight-in-Buncombe-County…

Who is Sonny Vincent? At the risk of losing punk rock “cred,” I first heard of Sonny when he toured with Rocket from the Crypt in 2003, later they recorded the album “Vintage Piss,” and John Reis released the complete Testors discography on his Swami Records label. Formed in 1975, the Testors were a mainstay in the New York punk scene and played such storied venues as Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. They toured nationwide in support of the Dead Boys and released the single “Together” in 1976. The song features some standout melody lines and you can hear how much still resonates in current punk recordings.

The Testors disbanded in 1981 and Sonny relocated to Minnesota. Soon after he formed the band Sonny Vincent and the Extreme and he became interested in filmmaking and multimedia arts. The band released the video “Mannequin World.” After the breakup of the band, he formed the band Model Prisoners with Bob Stinson of The Replacements and Shotgun Rationale which featured such noted members as Cheetah Chrome, Tony Slug, and Greg Norton.

In the early ’90s he moved to the Netherlands and formed the Dons and Sonny Vincent and His Rat Race Choir whose lineup included Scott Asheton, Cheetah Chrome, and Captain Sensible. He also toured extensively and recorded with Maureen “Moe” Tucker of The Velvet Underground while still releasing numerous solo albums. When shows with Tucker became infrequent, he recorded the album “Pure Filth” with His Rat Race Choir. He continues to tour and write solo albums.

As a community, we debate what “punk” is all the time. Whether it’s a fashion sense, a state of mind, or simply a music genre, one thing we can agree on generally is it’s a community that can reach out and help those in need. I witnessed this firsthand when I was briefly in a band with Karl Alvarez of the Descendents and he suffered a heart attack and we raised funds to cover his medical expenses. This article is meant as a call to action for people to send Sonny that same love and support.

Musicians in our community often make sacrifices that impact their ability to earn money, cover medical expenses, and survive tragic occurrences. Often they just barely eke out a living and suffer in anonymity. It’s not an easy thing for people to ask for help and sadly our society seems to put our citizens in situations where appealing to people for donations is the only recourse. We can do better, but until we do, we will hear stories like these and their appeals for help. We must, if we have the resources, pick up people when they ask for help. Sadly, that is the reality of our society at the moment.

So, please, if you have the capability, donate to the GoFundMe page. If you don’t, then please share it and hold positive thoughts for Sonny, Robert, Sarah, and Cayden.

Thank you.


(Photo by Eric Guyot)


Jeff Reese

Jeff Reese is a blue-collar socialist living in Colorado. He’s worked his adult life in the automotive industry fixing, as he puts it, “broken shit.” And he loves fly-fishing.

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