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The MC5’s Wayne Kramer has died aged 75

Uncut Magazine | February 3, 2024

Farewell to the guitarist and political activist

Wayne Kramer has died aged 75.

Kramer’s Instagram page announced the news: “Wayne S. Kramer
“PEACE BE WITH YOU” April 30, 1948 – February 2, 2024”


A second post confirmed, “Wayne Kramer passed away today peacefully from pancreatic cancer. He will be remembered for starting a revolution in music, culture, and kindness.”

Photo: Jim Newberry

Born Wayne Kambes in Detroit, Kramer and friend Fred “Sonic” Smith formed the Motor City Five, shortened to the MC5, in the mid-’60s. The group eventually solidified around Kramer, Smith and frontman Rob Tyner, drummer Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson and bassist Michael Davis.

Managed by political activist and White Panther Party leader John Sinclair, the MC5 became house band at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom in 1967. The following year, the band took part in an anti-war protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. They also signed to Elektra in 1968 and recorded their debut album, Kick Out the Jams, live at the Grande Ballroom on October 30 and 31, 1968.

Broke, harassed and suffering from drug problems, MC5 eventually split up in 1972 – then in 1975, Kramer was convicted of selling drugs to undercover federal agents, and spent four years in prison.

The Clash paid tribute to Kramer’s time inside on “Jail Guitar Doors” – the title of which became the name of a non-profit organisation he co-founded with his wife and manager Margaret Saadi Kramer and Billy Bragg in the mid-2000s.

After his release from prison in 1979, Kramer joined Was (Not Was), but it wasn’t until the 1990s that he emerged as a solo artist, releasing his debut album, The Hard Stuff, in 1995.

Kramer revived the MC5 first in 2018 and again in 2022. He was working on a new MC5 album, which also featured Dennis Thompson, among other guests.

“This album continues from where [1971’s] High Time left off, in that I think it’s artists’ responsibility to reflect the times they’re going through,” he told Uncut. “We made an album that is in sync with the challenges we’re facing today, and that carries a positive message.”

As well as his solo and soundtrack work, Kramer wrote a memoir, The Hard Stuff, which was published in 2018.

According to Kramer’s Instagram account, “If you would like to honor Wayne, donations are appreciated to his nonprofit organization, Jail Guitar Doors @jailguitardoorsusa

The post The MC5’s Wayne Kramer has died aged 75 appeared first on UNCUT.

Written by Uncut Magazine


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