"Psychotic Reaction" is an early garage rock song released by the American rock band Count Five in 1965, and also the title of their only album. Guitarist John "Sean" Byrne was sitting in a Health Education class in his freshman year at San Jose City College in California, learning about psychosis. His friend Ron Lamb leaned over and whispered: "You know what would be a great name for a song? Psychotic Reaction."(YouTube) Byrne had been writing a tune in his head that day, and used the title to finish it, with the entire band given writing credit. The song hit number five on the Billboard charts.
The song contains a repetitious rhythm that eventually changes to a faster beat, an electric guitar playing a hypnotic melody going up the scales.
Because of its inclusion on the original Pebbles compilation album, probably the best known of the many obscure covers of this song that were made in the 1960s is the one by Positively 13 O'Clock (i.e., Jimmy Rabbitt with members of Mouse and the Traps and others) in 1967. The song has been covered by Brenton Wood, on his 1967 album Oogum Boogum. It was also recorded by the 1960s studio-only band, The Leathercoated Minds, in 1966 on their album A Trip Down the Sunset Strip.
The song is one of the many songs quoted and parodied on the 1976 album The Third Reich 'n Roll by the avantgarde group The Residents. "Psychotic Reaction" was also covered during the 1970s by The Radiators from Space (B-side to "Enemies", 1977) and by Television, who included the song in their early sets which emphasized the "rave-up" section. Covers made during the 1980s include a live version by The Cramps on their 1983 live mini-album, Smell of Female and by artist Nash the Slash. The Nash the Slash version was released on his 1984 albumAmerican Bandages, inserting paraphrased excerpts of John Hinckley's letter to Jodie Foster, as well as lines from the movie "Taxi Driver", between the verses.
Horror punk/metal band Haunted Garage covered the song on their 1991 album Possession Park. Other cover versions include a live version by The Fuzztones and a version by The Vibratorson their album Garage Punk (2009). This song is also played live by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the Playback box set and seen in the currently out of print concert video, "Take the Highway". The Night Beats from Seattle, Washington have claimed to have "psychically inherited" the song and have made it their own playing it most nights of their 2011 U.S. and European dates.