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MC5 (Motor City 5) is a rock/proto-punk band from Detroit, which in the successful occupation existed from 1965 to 1972. The band fell short time on by her explosive high energy music and performances, combined with the militant political activism of the American counterculture. The band is among the most important American hard rock groups of their time counting. [1]

Important influences on the band members came under more from the rhythm & blues, free jazz, The Rolling Stones, the beatnik movement and protest songs such as Bob Dylan. The band experimented with all these elements in their explosive rock. The MC5 was itself affect among other things the hard rock, garage rock and punk.


[hide]*1 History


The history of the MC5 started at Lincoln Park High school, Michigan. Guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith decided in 1963 to their bands (respectively The Bounty Hunters and The Vibratones) together. In 1964, the band added Rob Tyner – first in an attempt to make him's bassist, but from 1965 as a singer. Tyner was also the creator of the name the MC5. Patt Burrows played bass; Bob Gaspar sat behind the drums. In 1965 had to make place for bassist Michael Davis Burrows and later that year took the drums about Dennis Thompson of Gaspar. From that moment the line up of the MC5 final. [2]

In the early years the band was not known for its discipline. The band members were not regularly show up at a booked appearance or they played shorter than promised. There came a change in manager when she got, in the course of 1967: John Sinclair. [3]

Sinclair was the most important person in a commune in Detroit, The Artists Workshop. The Workshop was a refuge for artists, poets, artists, hippies and beatniks. There was a crew for light shows, poster artists and a stage, called the Grande (gran-dee) Ballroom. Not least because of her youth to the commune pulled free use of marijuana. The Workshop was therefore from its creation (in november 1964) closely monitored by the authorities in Detroit. Sinclair was in the early years, for example, twice convicted of possession or providing marijuana, among others to an under-cover agent. In late January 1967, the police a hefty charge to allow the Workshop partly collapsed. In the summer of 1967 to organize the whole thing knew Sinclair again, this time under the name Trans Love Energies. It was stated, among other things, in solidarity with the protests in Detroit in 1967, which merged with the most violent and bloodiest riots in America's modern history so far.

Led by Sinclair and MC5 Trans Love Energies fused together and the band could have shelter, a practice room, a borrowed bus and a loan for new equipment. Of a budget early in 1968, the band recorded her second single on: Looking at You/Borderline. It was not a commercial success but the picture gave them new performances. The mix of Trans love's activism and the radical sound and behavior of the MC5 earned the band a reputation on. the atmosphere during concerts was often strained. Shows were not interrupted because band members were caught smoking marijuana, then pulled a creditor or disgruntled club-owner called the Jack from the installation during a performance. Just as often, however, the show was resumed, under pressure from the public, what the MC5 further strength in her counterculture-attitude. Distressed parents and citizens did Declaration of ' obscenity ', inter alia because Tyner on stage then pulled an American flag into pieces to the hoisting freek flag with a large marijuana leaf, because a member of the crew for the public went nude in meditation (Ohm ...), and, above all, because the word "Motherfuckers" Tyner in the Hall shouted. [4the massive presence of the police during performances and the tense atmosphere only further contributed to the local cult status of the band.

The band soon became so popular and successful that they fixed the opening act was for big names in the Grande Ballroom, including CreamJimi HendrixJanis JoplinBlood Sweat and Tears and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Some acts were intimidated by that success and refused to play after the MC5 a frenzied and swirling mass in the Ballroom had left behind. [5]

Trans Love Energies had now become a Centre for a further alternative culture, fueled by outrage over, among other things, racial inequality in the us, Viet Nam war, and overall aggressive attitude by the authorities. There followed further arrests and intimidation from time to time by the police. As reaction in March 1968 the manifesto ' Total Assault on the Culture ' published in the private underground journal (Sun), whereby the relationships were put even further on edge, also with indignant citizens in Detroit. Trans Love Energies including the MC5 thereupon moved to a number of goods in the relatively quiet students placeAnn Arbor, near Detroit.

The success of the MC5 eluded also the record companies not. In the summer of 1968 the band got signed to Elektra. And by extension also got The Stooges, from Ann Arbor as a sister band MC5, a contract with that carrier. Sinclair was in the meantime more and more aware of the political power that the MC5 got:

[1] It was the process of getting hasseled by the police time after time, after getting beat up and arrested at a dance while I was trying to collect the money owed us by the clubowner, after getting gigs cancelled because of things we had done somewhere else, did I start to realize what I know now, that any action which has a political consequence is a political action, and I started to operate on that principle and tried to unite our work with that of the more overtly ' political ' people.

— [6]


At the end of August 1968 played the MC5 at the alternative Festival of Life in Chicago, organized as counterpart for the Democratic National Convention in that week. The police crackdown against hundreds of demonstrators left once again see that the counter culture in their own eyes had become a movement with which the authorities had to keep account.

Kick out the Jams (Motherfuckers!)[Edit][]

The first achievement at Elektra was recording a live album. Although it was unusual in the industry that a band like first a live-plate negative, Elektra boss Jac Holzman also saw that the sound and energy of the MC5 live the best would come into their own. The shooting for Kick out the Jams took place on 30 and 31 October 1968, in the Grande Ballroom. The title refers to a saying of the band not normally impressed by the acts in the Grande Ballroom. Especially the performances of British bands that were flooded by the members of the MC5 put away as slack jam sessions. ' Kick out the Jams ' would therefore like to say as much as ' running jump with that noodling '. To this cry added Tyner invariably ' Motherfuckers! ', so also during the recordings.

Immediately after the shooting, Sinclair in november 1968 the White Panther Party on, in an attempt to more weight and shape the political-revolutionary character of the counterculture. Sinclair movement was intended as the white extension of the Black Panther Party and the White Panthers explained themselves first agree with the program of the black sister organization. The first two statements from the 10-point programme of the White Panthers were as follows:

  1. Full endorsement and support of the Black Panther Party's 10-point program and platform.
  2. Total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock and roll, dope and fucking in the streets. [7]

The White Panthers were, just like the Black Panthers, intended as a militant club that a guerrilla to create the cultural revolution preached. Rock music was one of the most important weapons in the fight. The members of the MC5 occupy prominent places in the organization. Tyner was Minister of culture, the other band members were all Minister of war. Sinclair himself was Minister of information. The band allowed himself to portray with guns, guitars, and White Panther-symbols making them finally became connected with (violent) political activism. Not all band members realized fully what this image meant for the outside world; they wanted to make especially good rock music and politics appeared for their an afterthought. [8]

When Kick out the Jams had to be released, Sinclair wrote extensive liner notes for the inside of the cover. He repeated the rhetoric of the cultural revolution, rock music, drugs and "fucking in the streets". Although there were grave doubts about the effect of so much activism on and around the album, Elektra's Holzman initially agreed that the plate was produced at all as the band wanted it. Some distributors and sellers have to say about the album however vulgar and obscene and they refused to sell it, especially to minors. Also, the largest department store of Hudson'sDetroit, refused to Kick out the Jams from its shelves. In an irritated reaction placed the band together with Sinclair an advertisement in the Ann Arbor Argus (March 1969) with the text:

[3] KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER! and kick in the by if the store won't sell you the album on ELEKTRA. FUCK HUDSON 'S.

— [9]


Also put Sinclair and MC5, without permission, the logo of Elektra at. Holzman was furious. Finally did the fuss around it, in the eyes of many obscene album Elektra decide to a censored version to bring out, in order to earn something on the LP. The offending ' Motherfuckers! ' was replaced by ' Brothers and Sisters ', by Tyner pronunciation during the live recordings, assuming that this is an advertising slogan went. This time, the band was not asked for permission. After a brief fight in the press was the contract with Elektra disbanded in april 1969.

Even though for the Hudson's incident was the band clamp stuck between the Commerce of Elektra and the own rank. In december 1968, the MC5 a small tour on the East coast of the us. An anarchist movement in New York, The Motherfuckers, had stipulated that the popular Fillmore East would be accessible for free every Thursday night. Calculated on a Thursday night (26 december 1968) wanted the MC5 promote the album in the Fillmore, but Director Bill Graham wasn't going to the Motherfuckers still longer unpaid access. Elektra bought 500 tickets on, as a compromise to them for free by playing to the anarchists – after all kindred spirits in the counterculture. Graham, however, remained irritated, tore up the cards and posteerde himself at the door to allow any unwanted guests. While the tension between the frustrated Motherfuckers and ' the industry ', i.e. Graham and Elektra, rose arrived precisely the MC5 in a rented luxury limousine. That meant even more treason in the eyes of the anarchists, the band already held responsible for all the problems with the Fillmore that night. [10Eventually knew some Motherfuckers still to come in. They opened the side doors of the property in order to let the rest of the Pack. Partly due to the unhealthy atmosphere of the performance reviews were lukewarm; the MC5, the high expectations of ' revolution ' have not been able to live up to. [11Fillmore-Director Graham held out to all the commotion a broken nose over, whereby the band once again image-damage sustained at important figures in the music industry.

Despite all the problems was a successful album Kick out the Jams . Just before it appeared, the MC5 on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine (a picture of Tyner, 4 January 1969). [2The LP got a Top-30 listing in the u.s. charts. Next to the own work, including the title track, contains the plate for single covers: John Lee Hookers Motor City is Burning (which refers to the riots in Detroit from 1967) and Sun Ra's psychedelicStarship.


Immediately after the start at Elektra Atlantic Records offered the band a contract for two albums. In the second half of 1969, the studio plate Back in the USA included. The band now financially wrong in better conditions making them no longer depended on Trans Love Energies. The members of MC5 also began to distance himself from the political rhetoric of the White Panther Party and thus of Sinclair. The band moved to Hamburg, Michigan. She pulled to a new producer, John Landau, and a private accountant who took care of the payment of outstanding accounts at Trans Love Energies. Also musical went to the helm on Back in the UNITED STATES, which is much more sounds like a rock 'n' roll plate. Little Richards Tutti Frutti was covered, as well as the title track of Chuck Berry. Typical MC5 tracks on the album are Looking at YouThe Human Being Lawnmower and The American Ruse, in which the counterculture reflects again.

When Sinclair was condemned again in late 1969 for possession of marijuana (he got this time 9.5 years in prison), was the breach between him and the MC5 final. Back in the USA was completed without his further cooperation and released in January 1970. It was not a great success. Be followed in the summer of that year a series of concerts in Britain, including the Phun City Festival.

In the autumn of 1970 started the recordings for the third album, High Timea studio record called again. The plate appeared in July 1971. It contains perhaps the most artistically interesting tracks from the MC5, asSister AnnGotta Keep Movin and Skunk (Sonicly Speaking), but it peaked the charts don't agree.

Sinclair came on 13 december 1971, three days after a climactic free benefit concert for him where among others John Lennon and Yoko Ono called for his release in the song John Sinclair. The MC5 was not invited to the concert.

In February 1972, the band began a second, short European tour. This time France and Germany were also affected. Shortly after arriving in Europe Michael Davis was fired from the band. Because was pledged to write a few songs for the soundtrack of the film Wayne Kramer played the bass Gold during those shots. A replacement for Davis was attracted to the European tour finish. Between april and June, the band was back in the USA. In June and July the MC5 toured further in Europe.

In november 1972 decided Dennis Thompson and Rob Tyner to stop. A mixture of bad management, differences in attitudes and drug use in the band broke them on. With a hired Kramer and Smith still rhythm section started a short tour of Scandinavia, likewise in november. In Italy a series of scheduled concerts by the organizer was canceled because the band is not more fully revealed. [12]

Back in Detroit gave the band one more appearance in the original cast. It took place in the private Grande Ballroom, on Sunday 31 december. According to Kramer, the action so bad that he could take it anymore.He left after a few songs from the stage. [13]


All band members later played in other bands.

  • Rob Tyner died on september 17, 1991.

On 22 February 1992 played the remaining 4 MC5-members together at a charity concert in honor of Tyner. As far as is known no recordings are in circulation. [14]

  • Fred Smith (married with Patti Smith) died on 4 november 1994.

Starting from 2003, Kramer and Davis Thompson toured with guest musicians as DKT/MC5.

  • Michael Davis died on 17 February 2012.



There is quite a few bootlegs in circulation--from usually very moderate sound quality--which for the main part are traced back to 3 different live recordings:

  • Dialogue Festival, First Unitarian Church, "Cass Corridor" Detroit, 7 and 8 september 1968
  • Sturgis Armory, 27 June 1968
  • Saginaw Civic Centre, 1 January 1970

Most of these bootleg tracks are collected in the Purity Accuracy Box Set (6 discs), Easy Action Records, 2005. The box also contains earlier (unofficial) released recordings of rehearsals and album-old outtakes.The quality of the tracks is usually the best that is in circulation.

  • Kick Copenhagen, Live 1972 (1972)
  • Babes in Arms (1983 | 1998 remastered)
  • Live Detroit 68/69 (1988)
  • Sonic Sounds from the Midwest (1988)
  • Live 1969-70 (1991)
  • Vintage Years (1991)
  • Black to Comm (1994)
  • Power Trip (1994)
  • Looking At You (1995)
  • The American Ruse (1995)
  • Phun City, UK 1970 (1996)
  • Motor City Meltdown (1996)
  • Teen Age Lust (1996)
  • Ice Pick Slim (1997)
  • Starship (1998)
  • Motor City is Burning (1999)
  • 66 Breakout (1999)
  • Thunder Express (1999)
  • Human Being Lawnmower-The Baddest & Maddest of the MC5 (2002)
  • Live At The Grande Ballroom 68 (2006)
  • Anthology 1965-1971 (2 CD) (2008)
  • The Big Bang!: Best of the MC5 (2000)
  • Are You Ready to Testify?: The Live Bootleg Anthology (3 CD) (2005)
  • Purity Accuracy (6 CD) (2004)
Not released recordings
  • The Stooges & MC5-Live Soldier Field, Chicago-July 18th, 1970
Singles (in the US)
  • I Can Only Give You Everything/One of the Guys (1967)
  • Looking at You/Borderline (1968)
  • I Can Only Give You Everything/I Just Don't Know (1969)
  • Kick Out the Jams/Motor City is Burning (1969)
  • Tonight/Looking at You (1969)
  • Shakin' Street/The American Ruse (1970)
  • Over and Over/Sister Anne (1971) (never officially released)
A number of loose MC5 tracks appeared on
  • Michigan Nuggets (1980)
  • Original Soundtrack from the Movie ' Gold ' (1972) [Gold, Inside Out, Train Music]


  • Kick Out the Jams (1999)
  • A True Testimonial (2002)