Shadows of Knight singer Jimy Sohns, voice of hit ‘Gloria,’ dead at 75, services Saturday

The band was “one of the archetypes of garage rock and helped define Chicago rock ‘n’ roll,” according to Stevie Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

SHARE Shadows of Knight singer Jimy Sohns, voice of hit ‘Gloria,’ dead at 75, services Saturday
Jimy Sohns of The Shadows of Knight.

Jimy Sohns of The Shadows of Knight.

Sun Times file

Jimy Sohns, whose snarlingly muscular voice powered The Shadows of Knight, a garage rock band from the Chicago suburbs that hit big in 1966 with the gloriously sloppy hit “Gloria,” has died.

Mr. Sohns, who was 75, was still shouting out “G-L-O-R-I-A!” at performances as recently as last month, according to his daughter Raechel Sohns-Stebbins.

A Roselle resident, he died Friday in hospice care at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village after a stroke, she said.

Jimy Sohns (center, in striped shirt) with The Shadows of Knight.

Jimy Sohns (center, in striped shirt) with The Shadows of Knight.

Sun-Times file

The Shadows of Knight were among the biggest garage bands and rockers to come out of Chicago in the late 1960s. The group was “one of the archetypes of garage rock and helped define Chicago rock ‘n’ roll,” according to Stevie Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

The Shadows remade “Gloria,” which Van Morrison wrote and recorded with his band Them.

Mr. Sohns’ daughter said the remake cleaned up a line that hardly seems controversial today. Them’s version went: “And then she comes in my room and she make me feel alright.” Mr. Sohns sang the more radio-friendly: “And then she call out my name, that made me feel alright.”

It was a smash hit for the Shadows of Knight, who appeared on national TV and toured with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. The group performed with bands including AC/DC and the Rolling Stones.

He co-wrote the “B” side of “Gloria” — “Dark Side,” a song later featured on the soundtrack for the 2019 movie “Ford v Ferrari,” starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon.

“He was a born rocker, an amazing singer, the loudest voice of any human being I have ever heard,” said Jim Peterik of the Ides of March. “Don’t stand next to Jimy Sohns when he’s singing – you’re going to lose your hearing.”

Mr. Sohns was warm, funny and embraced other bands, according to Peterik and Ronnie Rice of New Colony Six.

“Everybody dug him,” Rice said. “He was made to rock.”

Mr. Sohns was about 5-feet-6 from his head to the ground but wouldn’t hesitate to stand up for himself or others.

Chicago punk pioneer Jim Skafish said Mr. Sohns, while working as road manager for his band from 1978 to 1980, made sure club owners and promoters paid up.

Skafish said Mr. Sohns also once put an end to what was quickly becoming an out-of-control situation involving Sid Vicious at a New York club. According to Skafish, Vicious — free on bail at the time on charges he killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen — caused a disturbance during a Skafish show at the club Hurrah in New York City in December 1978.

Skafish recalled on his blog: “Sid first began making gestures from the audience at my guitarist/vocalist Karen Winner. As our set progressed, Sid took notice of Skafish female drum roadie Tara and started making flirtatious advances toward her, including pinching her."

Todd Smith — brother of Patti Smith and later Tara's husband — approached Vicious, Skafish said Monday, then, “Sid took a beer bottle and smashed it over Todd’s face.”

“What was on the verge of becoming complete mayhem was stopped by Jimy Sohns,” who was at the mixing board, Skafish said. “He rushed to the front, punched Sid Vicious, grabbed him, dragged him through the club and down a flight of stairs.”

He added, “Jimy sort of had one gear. In that sense, he was a true rock star.”

In 1983, Mr. Sohns was sentenced to prison for selling cocaine to undercover agents. While serving time at East Moline Correctional Center, he led the band Jimy Sohns and the Cons.

He was born in Chicago to Doris and Francis Sohns. They moved to Prospect Heights because their home was among those demolished to make way for the Kennedy Expressway, his daughter said.

He went to Prospect High School, where he played baseball. The school’s sports teams, the Knights, helped inspire the band’s name, according to his daughter.

She remembers he’d drive around with her, howling out songs to warm up. When she was about 5, “He had this little silver suit he’d put on me, and he’d put me on stage and give me a tambourine,” she said.

Mr. Sohns was married twice, according to his daughter, who said survivors also include his grandsons Jimy and Justin, girlfriend Kathy Strahan and ex-wife Susan Stone. A public visitation is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Michaels Funeral Home & Cremation Care in Schaumburg.

Skafish said Mr. Sohns once told him: “‘I want to be known as the godfather of garage rock.’ He was really revered by the top level of musicians around the world.”

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