black and white press image of the members of the band MC5


Eligible year:
Number of nominations:
Nominated in:
2003, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • Michael Davis
  • Wayne Kramer
  • Fred “Sonic” Smith
  • Dennis Thompson
  • Rob Tyner

“Kick Out the Jams, Brothers and Sisters,” was the rallying cry of the MC5,

a band that mixed searing rock & roll with radical politics, combining Chuck Berry riffs with a soundtrack from the flip side of flower-power counterculture. 


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“Brothers and sisters, the time has come for each and every one of you to decide whether you are gonna be the problem or whether you are gonna be the solution.” For the Motor City 5, there was never any doubt that the band’s unapologetic garage rock anthems would be anything but the solution – the fast-rocking truths, raw and revealing about the violent underside of flower-power culture.   

Draped in red, white and blue, the MC5 were a high-watt onslaught of musicians: stun-guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith, bassist Michael Davis, drummer Dennis Thompson, and brain-shattering lead singer Rob Tyner. The Motor City 5 kicked out the jams and politicized every bystander in sight. Their sound was a unique combination of R&B, psychedelia and garage rock with dominant political messages. Invited by Abbie Hoffman to play to the masses of young protestors outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, MC5 were the only band brazen enough to play onstage. They became the soundtrack to a cultural tipping point, played over scenes of tear gas and police brutality.  

With proud anti-establishment credentials—the f-bomb was their go-to rallying cry—the MC5 prefigured much of American punk rock and even influenced heavy metal. The band broke new ground with their second album, Back In The USA, produced by then rock critic Jon Landau. The record combined Chuck Berry riffs with lyrics that remain prophetic to this day. Just listen to “High School” and you’ll hear the pop-punk sound that was later perfected by The Ramones. Each album’s relentless qualities drive listeners to the brink of sensory overload while remaining rooted in melody.   

Fifty years after recording their first album, founder Wayne Kramer is back on the road with a super group of musicians playing thought-provoking music during another period of political unrest. The MC50 features members of Faith No More, Fugazi, Soundgarden, and Zen Guerilla, exemplifying the continued broad influence and spirit of the original Motor City 5. 

Selected discography: 

“I Can Only Give You Everything,” “I Just Don’t Know” (1966) • “Looking At You,” “Borderline” (1968) • “Ramblin’ Rose,” “Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)” Kick Out The Jams (1969) • “Tonight,” “Shakin’ Street,” Back In The USA (1970) • “Sister Anne,” High Time (1971) 

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Fan Vote 2019

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Beginning October 9 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. EST on December 9, 2018, fans can cast votes for who they believe to be most deserving of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2019 inductees. Fans will need to login to vote. Voting is capped at one ballot per day.

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