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


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2003, 2017, 2018
  • 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.” So proclaimed Master of Ceremonies Brother JC Crawford at the introduction of the MC5’s debut album, Kick Out The Jams.

Draped in red, white and blue and led by the high-watt onslaught of 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.

The band hit pay dirt with their second album, Back In The USA, produced by then rock critic Jon Landau that combined Chuck Berry riffs with a nightmarish soundtrack of the counterculture. The standout track from the album is “The Human Being Lawnmower” which contains lyrics that are prophetic to this day: 

“Can you hear me?
Hope you can
Listen here closely
You’ll understand

Make way for the killer race

They use the Bible
Millimeter by millimeter
Millimeter by millimeter

Six times hot as the sun
Didn’t mean to hurt anyone…”

With the most anti-establishment credentials in rock and roll (the f-bomb was their go-to expletive) the MC5 prefigured much of American punk rock. Just listen to “High School” and you will hear the pop-punk sound that was later perfected by the Ramones.

Forty-five years after their historic finale at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom on New Year’s Eve (1972), the Motor City 5 are about as ballsy as it gets.

Selected discography

“I Can Only Give You Everything,” “I Just Don’t Know” (1966) “Looking At You,” “Borderline” (1968) “Ramblin’ Rose,” Kick Out The Jams (1969) “Tonight,” “Shakin’ Street,” Back In The USA (1970) High Time (1971)

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