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MC5 live in the Hamburg factory (2018)
MC5 live in the Hamburg factory (2018)
General information
origin Lincoln Park , United States
Genre (s) Garage rock , hard rock , detroit rock
founding 1964, 2003
resolution 1972
Founding members
Rob Tyner ( 1944--1991 )
Fred Smith (1949 - 1994)
Wayne Kramer (born 1948)
Michael Davis (1943-2012)
Dennis Thompson (* 1948)
Current occupation
Guitar, vocals
Wayne Kramer
Dennis Thompson

MC Five ( Motor City Five , German "the five from the city of engines" ) were a rock band from Lincoln Park , a city in the Detroit area , Michigan , USA . The band, founded in 1964, was one of the most important precursors of punk . The MC5 stood in stark contrast to the developing genres of art rock and disco . They proclaimed often and loudly the program of total freedom and the like promoted by their manager John Sinclair , the chairman of the White Panther Party and founder of the Fifth Estate newspaper . a. through rock 'n' roll, drugs and sex on the street.

Band history

From the beginning to the first LP (1964–1969)

In 1964 Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith founded the Bounty Hunters in Lincoln Park , and Rob Tyner (real name: Bob Derminer) joined the group as bassist and soon became the group's singer. With bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson, the Bounty Hunters formed the Motor City Five , or MC5 for short.

The group then lived in a commune in the US university town of Ann Arbor , Michigan, which was characterized by its liberal, politically left-wing environment. Due to their high energy performances, the intensity of which was influenced by James Brown , the group quickly gained a reputation in the Midwest .

Danny Fields , A&R manager at Elektra Records , flew to Detroit, saw the MC5 perform, and signed the band for $ 20,000 after consultation with President Jac Holzmann. Wayne Kramer referred Danny Fields to the younger, so far only regionally known The Stooges with Iggy Pop as the singer. After seeing the Stooges perform, Fields also signed them for $ 5,000.

The MC5's debut album was recorded live on October 30th and 31st, 1968 at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit . At the urging of their record label Elektra, they had to change the line “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers” to “Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters”. The album closed with the song Starship , a cover of Sun Ra . The first Elektra release was the pre-release single Kick out the jams (with "brothers and sisters" instead of "motherfuckers") in January 1969 . Due to the positive response, Elektra released the album Kick Out the Jams with liner notes by John Sinclair on April 7, 1969 , which reached # 30 (Billboard). The title song appears in the "motherfuckers" version. Only later versions appear with "brothers and sisters" and a simple cover.

Annoyed by some stores not wanting to sell their album, the group placed a full-page ad with the Elektra Records logo in Argus (1969 issue Feb. 13-27), an underground magazine in Ann Arbor in which they had several record dealers berated, and charged Elektra for the advertising costs. Despite relatively good sales and top 30 placement of the album Kick Out the Jams , Elektra separated from the group in April 1969 due to "unprofessional behavior".

From the second LP to the dissolution (1969–1972)

When John Sinclair was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for possession of two marijuana cigarettes, MC5 played in numerous benefit concerts with other Detroit bands to raise money for the legal costs, but some of this was spent on propaganda for the White Panther Party instead of the trial . When Sinclair was in prison, the group separated from him.

In the summer of 1969, Atlantic Records signed the group. On October 15, 1969, the pre-release single Tonight was released . Her second album Back in the USA was produced in the summer of 1969 in the GM studios in East Detroit by Jon Landau, who later supervised Bruce Springsteen . Back in the USA was lyrically much less political, but on par with the first record in terms of speed and severity. The record included the title song by Chuck Berry and Tutti Frutti by Little Richard, as well as classics like Looking at you . The album Back in the USA was released on January 15, 1970, but only reached number 137 on the Billboard hit lists.

The five consoled themselves over their commercial failure with faster cars, bigger mansions, and huge mountains of amplifiers . With the glamor bought on credit, they no longer corresponded to their own earlier ideas:

"You wanted to be bigger than the Beatles , and I wanted you to be bigger than Mao ."

- John Sinclair

Given the approval in Europe, the MC5 went on a European tour for the first time in July 1970. So they played with good feedback on July 25, 1970 at the Phun City Festival in Worthing with the Pink Fairies and Demon Fuzz, on July 26, 1970 at the Roundhouse , London , with Matthews Southern Comfort and on July 31, 1970 at the Marquee Club . For their third album High Time , the group went with Geoff Haslam in October 1970 to Landsdown Studios in London and to Head Sound Studios in Michigan. In July 1971, the album was released, which did not make it into the charts. Another European tour followed in February 1972, during which Michael Davis left the group due to personal differences. That same month the group worked on more songs at Herouville Castle Studios, according to Thunder Express .

Worn down by management problems, a lack of support from the record company, drug problems and personal differences within the group, Rob Tyner and Dennis Thompson finally left. In the fall of 1972, Fred Smith and Wayne Kramer went on another European tour. The MC5 at that time consisted of Smith and Kramer, Derek Hughes on bass and a pickup drummer. On December 31, 1972, the last appearance of the original lineup took place at their old place of work, the Grande Ballroom.

Later years

Rob Tyner played a single in 1977 with Eddie & the Hot Rods as a backing band and performed with the Rob Tyner Band. He died of a heart attack on September 18, 1991.

Fred Smith founded the group Sonic's Rendezvous Band with Scott Morgan (ex-The Rationals), Gary Rasmussen (ex-The Up) and Scott "Rock Action" Asheton (ex- The Stooges ) . They play a lot of concerts, but only release a single City Slang in 1977 . Without Morgan, the group went on a European tour with Iggy Pop in 1978. After the group ended, Smith worked with his wife Patti Smith and released an album with her. He died on November 4, 1994 due to heart failure.

Wayne Kramer went to jail for drug trafficking in the 1970s. After curing his drug addiction, he released several solo albums, founded the Gang War project with Johnny Thunders , worked with Was (Not Was) , Scott Morgan (group Dodge Main , in which Dennis Thompson also played), Pere Ubu and Henry Rollins and is with his own record company Muscle Tone Records also active outside of music.

Michael Davis also went to jail for various offenses. Musically he worked in 1973 in the group Ascension with Fred Smith and Dennis Thompson, with Ron Asheton in the group Destroy All Monsters . He played with Rich Hopkins in the 1990s .

Dennis Thompson played with Deniz Tek (ex- Radio Birdman ) and founded the group New Race with Tek, Ron Asheton (ex-The Stooges) and Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert (ex-Radio Birdman). Other groups he played in were The New Order, Sirius Trixon, Motor City Bad Boys and Dodge Main (with Scott Morgan, Wayne Kramer and Deniz Tek).

On February 22, 1992, Fred Smith, Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis and Dennis Thompson played a tribute concert for Rob Tyner. In 2003 the remaining band members (Kramer, Davis and Thompson) played a concert at 100 Club in London , England. The vocalists were Nicke Andersson from The Hellacopters , Lemmy from Motörhead , Dave Vanian from The Damned and Ian Astbury from The Cult . Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis and Dennis Thompson have been going on a world tour as DKT / MC5 since summer 2004. Depending on the country in which they tour, relatively well-known singers act and fans of the band have declared as "replacements" for Rob Tyner, such as Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters), Mark Arm ( Mudhoney ) and Evan Dando ( The Lemonheads ). Bassist Michael Davis died on February 17, 2012 in Chico , California .

In May 2018, Wayne Kramer announced the MC50 tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kick Out the Jams . This included himself, Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron from Soundgarden , Brendan Canty from Fugazi and Doug Pinnick from King's X , but also Marcus Durant and Don War . Pinnick was eventually replaced by Faith No More bassist Billy Gould .

Style and meaning

The MC5, along with The Stooges , Bob Seger , the Pleasure Seekers (with Suzi Quatro ), Savage Grace and other groups, were part of the musically highly active Detroit rock scene of the 1960s. MC5 was the first of these bands to break through to national recognition.

The energetic hard rock of MC5 stood for a musical radicalization. However, critics noted on the first record that the live recordings sounded like brute force was a substitute for originality. The not so successful second album received better reviews and was influential on the later punk movement with the brevity of the songs and the hard, uncompromising performance. Bands like The Damned , Eddie & the Hot Rods , Plan 9 , Ducks Deluxe and The Boys took over Looking at you and other MC5 songs in their repertoire. Later groups like The Hellacopters , The White Stripes , The Streetwalkin 'Cheetahs, Miracle Workers or Teengenerate orientated themselves musically to the group.


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Kick out the jams
  US 30th 05/10/1969 (23 weeks)
Back in the USA
  US 137 03/21/1970 (7 weeks)
Kick out the jams
  US 82 03/15/1969 (4 weeks)
Looking at you
  AT 19th 03/15/1970 (4 weeks)


  • 1969: Kick Out the Jams
  • 1970: Back in the USA
  • 1971: high time


  • 1983: Babes in Arms (ROIR, released on cassette )
  • 1994: Black to Comm (Receiver)
  • 1994: Power Trip (Total Energy)
  • 1995: Looking at You (10 ″) (Total Energy)
  • 1995: American Ruse (Total Energy)
  • 1995: Thunder Express (Jungle Record)
  • 1995: Friday the 13th (Alive)
  • 1996: Teen Age Lust (Total Energy)
  • 1997: Ice Pick Slim (Alive)
  • 1998: Starship: Live at Sturgis Armory June 1968 (Total Energy)
  • 1999: '66 Breakout (Total Energy)
  • 2000: The Big Bang: The Best of MC5 ( Rhino Records )


  • 1966: I Can Only Give You Everything / I Just Don't Know
  • 1968: Looking at You / Borderline
  • 1969: Kick Out the Jams / Motor City Is Burning
  • 1969: Ramblin 'Rose / Borderline
  • 1970: Tonight / Looking at You
  • 1970: Shakin 'Street / The American Ruse


  • Christian Graf and Burghard Rausch: Rock Music Lexicon . Fischer-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-596-13873-6 , page 1068f.
  • Siegfried Schmidt-Joos and Wolf Kampmann: Rock Lexicon . rororo-Verlag, Reinbek 2008, ISBN 978-3-499-62133-8 , page 1096f.

Web links

Commons : MC5  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Schmidt-Joos / Kampmann, page 1097
  2. ^ Entry on Rob Tyner at Find-A-Grave
  3. Washington Post, February 19, 2012, /18/gIQAyIVeMR_story.html
  4. MC5 announce UK and European tour dates . In: Louder , May 2, 2018. 
  5. Mick Farren in Sounds. Plates 66-77 . Two thousand and one. Frankfurt am Main 1979, page 62
  6. Sounds. Plates 66-77 . Two thousand and one. Frankfurt am Main 1979, page 100
  7. a b Chart sources: AT US