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MC5 Co-founder Wayne Kramer Passes Away at 75 - A Legacy Remembered

MC5 co-founder Wayne Kramer's influential career, from political activism to punk rock, is chronicled in his autobiography and continues to inspire.

Wayne Kramer, a Detroit native, co-founded MC5 with Fred "Sonic" Smith and vocalist Rob Tyner, establishing the band as a groundbreaking force in the local music scene. Their electrifying live performances quickly earned them a reputation, and their debut album, 'Kick Out the Jams,' recorded at Detroit's Grande Ballroom, became an anthem of resistance and a precursor to punk rock. MC5, also known as Motor City 5, was deeply rooted in working-class pride and was politically active, using their music as a platform to protest the Vietnam War and embody a rebellious spirit.

Despite facing commercial challenges with subsequent albums and the band's disbandment in 1972 due to bankruptcy and drug issues, Kramer continued his musical journey. After serving time in prison for drug-related charges, he joined Was (Not Was) and pursued solo projects. In 1994, he signed with Epitaph as a solo artist and released his debut album, 'The Hard Stuff.'

In the early 2000s, Kramer reunited with various musicians to reform MC5 and continued to tour, even commemorating a 50th anniversary in 2018. He was also working on a third studio album for the band, aiming to reignite the spirit of activism from his youth. Beyond music, Kramer co-founded the U.S. branch of the Jail Guitar Doors initiative, using music to help prison inmates.

His impact is celebrated by peers such as Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, who lauded Kramer's wisdom, compassion, and conviction. Chronicled in his 2017 autobiography 'The Hard Stuff,' Kramer's life has been a wild ride, encompassing roles as a hard rocker, jazz musician, film composer, and ex-convict. His influence on the music industry, particularly on punk rock, has been widely recognized, and his legacy as a radical rocker and punk progenitor continues to endure.

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