Wayne Kramer, co-founder of revolutionary rock band the MC5, dead at 75
Feb 2, 2024, 4:28 PM
(Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for Ciroc/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Wayne Kramer, the co-founder of the protopunk Detroit band the MC5 that thrashed out such hardcore anthems as “Kick Out the Jams” and influenced everyone from the Clash to Rage Against the Machine, has died at age 75.
Kramer died Friday at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, according to Jason Heath, a close friend and executive director of Kramer’s nonprofit Jail Guitar Doors. Heath said the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.
From the late 1960s to early 1970s, no band was closer to the revolutionary spirit of the time than the MC5, which featured Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith on guitars, Rob Tyner on vocals, Michael Davis on bass and Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson on drums. Managed for a time by White Panther co-founder John Sinclair, they were known for their raw, uncompromising music, which they envisioned as the soundtrack for the uprising to come.
The band had little commercial success and its core lineup did not last beyond the early 1970s, but its legacy endured, both for its sound and for its fusing of music to political action. Smith, who had a long history of legal battles and substance abuse, would tell his story in the 2018 memoir “The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities.”