5 Things You Might Not Know About The MC5
Hereâs one thing you probably know about the MC5 even if you donât know anything else about the MC5: theyâre the band who gave us the phrase, âKick out the jams, mother fuckers!â That alone would have secured their permanent status as music icons, but thereâs so much more to them than that. Weâve got the official MC5 playlist ready, so that you can educate yourself about their music, but in addition to the tunes, weâve also got a list of 5 things you might not know about the band.
1. Although their sound inspired a thousand hard-rocking imitators, the MC5âs original source of inspiration â or at least guitarist Wayne Kramerâs anyway â was free jazz.
âThe free-jazz movement, the music ofÂ Pharoah Sanders,Â Archie Shepp,Â John ColtraneÂ andÂ Sun RaÂ â that's what originally inspired me and the MC5,â Kramer told Rolling Stone in 2014. âWhat the most advanced jazz musicians were doing was pushing the music forward, and that was my goal as a rock player in the MC5. I needed a source of inspiration that was unorthodox and provocative on every level. I had reached a point where I could play the guitar okay. I could playÂ Chuck BerryÂ solos andÂ Rolling StonesÂ songs. Sun Ra showed me where to go from there.â
2. The MC5 opened for Big Brother and the Holding Company in Detroit and reportedly blew them off the stage.
âThere are some great stories of the MC5âs tenure at the Grande [Ballroom],âÂ recalled Jerry Goodwin, a DJ at WKNR-AM in Detroit at the time. âJanis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company refused to come on stage after a blistering set that had the crowd frenzied and frothing at the mouth. I think her words were, âNo fucking way.ââ
3. The MC5 played the 1968 Democratic National Conventionâ¦and Norman Mailer wrote about it.
In his book Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Mailer had plenty to say about the experience of hearing the MC5 perform live. In fact, he had so much to say that youâre better off reading his piece for yourself, which you can do by clicking right here. Letâs just say, though, that the big question asked by Mailer within the piece is this: âHad the horns of the Huns ever had noise to compare?â So weâre thinking he was a big fan.
4. The band lost their record deal with Elektra because they spoke out about a chain of stores refusing to stock the KICK OUT THE JAMS album.
Okay, actually, thereâs a little bit more to it than that. Hudsonâs Department Stores were based in Detroit, the MC5âs home town, so you can imagine that the band wasnât exactly pleased when the chain decided that they werenât going to stock the album because of its obscene lyrical content. This isnât an entirely unreasonable position to take when you consider the word that immediately follows the utterance of the album title on the title track. (Itâs not exactly the sort of term that a family department store chain wants to have associated with them, yâknow?) Rather than attempt any sort of negotiation, the band opted simply to approach a local magazine called Fifth Estate and purchase an ad which featured the following text: âKICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER! and kick in the door if the store wonât sell you the album on Elektra. FUCK HUDSONâS!â Oh, yes, and they also prominently featured the Elektra logo. Suffice it to say that Elektra was not amused.
5. Wayne Kramer has a YouTube account and heâs not afraid to use it.
About three weeks ago, Kramer suddenly started uploading videos to YouTube, and if youâre an MC5 fan, youâll be in awe of some of the things heâs been posting. Heâs only just started, mind you, but to our way of thinking, this clip alone makes his arrival worthwhile: itâs a 1972 performance of the band from Parisâs Gibus Club. Yes, itâs raw, but somehow that makes it even better.