“BUZZ” Newspaper Article Mar- Apr 2014 (#36- mC)
By: RLSchwinden aka MrZERo
When I was a kid in Sioux City, I used to go over to my Grandma’s & sit in my Aunt Cathy’s bedroom & listen to her records as she had so many more than me, & so many different artists than I did. One day I put on an album titled “Heavy Metal” a 1974 WB Various Artist LP, on Side A track #1 was a song that punched me right in the gut … that song was “Kick Out The Jams” (censored version) by the “MC5” (Motor City Five). Many years later I was listening to “HANOI ROCKS” 1985 LP “Rock & Roll Divorce” & the last track was “Looking At You” by MC5. so I looked into this “Pre-Punk Band” of the late 60s from Detroit & here’s what I found … there are many arguments as to who actually started “Punk Music” The SONICS, BLUE CHEER, The STOOGES or NEW YORK DOLLS or this month’s focus Artist.
> The Rocket Reducer < It all started with 2 high school buddies Wayne S. Kramer (30 Apr 1948) & Fred "Sonic" Smith (Frederick Dewey Smith: 14 Sep 1949 W. Virginia - 4 Nov 1994 Detroit) were in the band the "Bounty Hunters" in 1962 when they met met one Rob Tyner (Robert W. Derminer: 12 Dec 1944- 17 Sep 1991 Berkley, MI). Tyner became the Bass Player in 1963 but switched to Vocals when he came up with the new name of the band MC5 (Motor City Five) in 1964. There were several others in the band from the early days of the "Bounty Hunters" such as Billy Vargo & Leo LeDuc & then Bob Gaspar & Pat Burrows, before the legendary line-up, then Michael H. Davis (5 Jun 1943– 17 Feb 2012 Chico, CA) joined on Bass in 1964, & Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson (Dennis A. Tomich:7 Sep 1948) solidified the line-up in 1965. >Borderline< In 1966 the band release their 1st 45 Single on AMG Records "I Can Only Give You Everything b/w One Of The Guys" in early 1968 a 2nd 45 Single followed on A-Square Records "Borderline b/w Looking At You" with a picture sleeve, this 45 sold several thousand copies while a 3rd 45 Single was released in late 1968 on AMG Records the A-Side was re-released, "I Can Only Give You Everything b/w I Just Don't Know". In Jan 1969 the band had a cover story on "ROLLINGSTONE Magazine" from drawing so much attention from the live performances. >Motor City Is Burning< In Feb 1969 the band release its 1st LP "Kick Out The Jams" on Electra Records EKS-74072 with the 45 Single of the same name b/w "Motor City Is Burning" which hit #82 on the Billboard Charts. In a strange move especially for the time the album was recorded "live" on 30- 31 Oct 1968 @ the Grande Ballroom in Detroit. Collectors Note: there 3 Versions of this LP. The Original Release with "Kick Out The Jams Mutha F******S" & the words printed inside the cover, the 2nd version with the words inside the cover changed to "Kick out the Jams, Brothers & Sisters" & the 3rd (most common) where the words inside the cover & on the LP are changed to "Brothers & Sisters" The start of the band being King's of Controversy their one time manager was John Sinclair (2 Oct 1941 Flint, MI)who was involved with the "White Panthers Group" who also booked the MC5 @ the National Democratic Convention in Aug 1968, where they played for some 8 hours straight. Sinclair was later arrested in 1969 for marijuana & incarcerated for 10 years, causing such an uproar John Lennon wrote a song in protest for Sinclair on "Sometime In New York City" in 1972. >The American Ruse< Then there was a huge conflict between Hudson's Dept. Store (Detroit based Company) who refused to carry the LP & the band. In a pompous bad move the band ran a print ad that read "F*** Hudson's" the Electra Label dropped the MC5. Then on 26 Feb 1969 Thompson became #10 & Kramer #11th 'members' of the "PLASTER CASTER" Club! MC5 performed their 1st concert here in Minneapolis 21 Sep 1969 @ The Labor Temple w/ opening Act "COTTONWOOD" Because of the bands ad stunt against Hudson's they were dropped from Electra & then signed to Atlantic Records their 2nd LP released in Jan 1970 "Back In The USA" is actually their 1st "Studio LP" produced by Jon Landau, who toned the band way down in an attempt to gain public acceptance. There were two 45 Singles released " Tonight b/w Looking At You (2nd Ver) " & "The American Ruse b/w Shakin Street" If one didn't know, you'd think "Shakin Street" is done by the GRATEFUL DEAD. >Future Now< In Jul 1971 "High Times" their 3rd LP was released again on Atlantic, this was the final LP released before the band eventually broke up on 1 Jan 1973. While on tour for the 3rd LP the band did play here in the Twin Cities in Jul 1971, as far as I can tell here is the setlist for that concert. The Minneapolis Armory July 1971 w/ Opening Band "SRC" (another Detroit band) Ramblin' Rose Tonight Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa) Miss X Looking at You I Want You Right Now Sister Anne Kick Out the Jams Black to Comm In Feb 1972 Bassist Michael Davis was forced out of the band for excessive drug use he was replaced by no less than 3 different Bass players over the next 10 months. In mid Feb the band with UK Bassist Steve "Annapurna" Moorhouse record 3 songs "Gold" "Inside Out" & "Train Music" for the soundtrack to the 1972 film "Gold" these 3 songs are the last recordings of the original MC5. In Mar 1972 the band perform 5 songs on German TV for "Beat Club". In mid Nov 1972 Thompson quits the band & soon after Tyner quits as well. The original 5 reformed for a farewell concert New Year's Eve 1972 held @ the Grande Ballroom where the band started & the momentum of their core fan-base was built. Collector's Note: The vast majority of MC5 sales were in vinyl & some 8Tracks. >Revolution In Apt. #29< In the aftermath of all the controversy & drugs here are some things that happened to various members; Kramer was caught selling drugs to an undercover agent in 1975 sent to prison in Lexington, KY. until 1978, upon his release he moved to NYC where he & former "NEW YORK DOLLS" Johnny Thunders formed a band "GANG WAR". When I asked Kramer about this band his response was "Where'd you get this CD of GANG WAR? (my answer "My Shop Mr. Zero's) Oh, we lasted about 6 months or so til the drugs tore the band apart" I also told him "I love your solo CD from 1997 "Citizen Wayne" who had the revolution in Apt. #29?" Kramer "Yea, that was me, the neighbors kept complaining about" Davis was also arrested for selling drugs to an agent & sent to the Lexington Federal Prison around 1977 or so, where He & Kramer were reunited once again, under unfortunate circumstances. Sonic Smith married Punk Singer Patti Smith in 1980, SONIC died of a heart-attack in 1994. The Smith's son Jackson is married to "WHITE STRIPES" Drummer Meg White. In 1983 a Cassette only "Rarities" "Babes In Arms" was released on ROIR Tyner died in 1991, of a heart-attack, & the 4 surviving members performed a 30 min. set on 22 Feb 1992 in Detroit @ The State Theatre. In 1998 one of my New Favorite Bands "MONSTER MAGNET" covered "Kick Out The Jams" I have a Promo CD Single of this (signed by: Ed Mundell) where a word is bleeped out? In 2004 Davis died of liver failure. In 2003 the 3 surviving members Davis, Thompson & Kramer formed DTK/MC5 & toured until Feb 2012 when Davis died of liver failure. I was able to see this line-up along w/ Marshall Crenshaw on guitar taking Smith's place on 12 Jun 2004 @ 1st Ave in Minneapolis, I was able to meet & talk with my new found idols, after the show & get some LPs & CDs signed. You could tell all 3 were really grateful to have such loyal fans. A CD Boxset "Purity Accuracy" was released in 2004 as well as from 1994 to 2004 some 8 compilation CDs have been released & 5 different "Live Concert" CDs have been released, these were released on CD, as there was virtually NO Vinyl sold from 1988 to 2003 (despite what everyone would like to believe) . There you have it a brief history of The White Panthers Activists: MC5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf_7GuVaN8k Dedicated to Sarah RN. (because I couldn't stop looking at her) By: RLSchwinden