MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer dead at 75

Wayne Kramer, the guitarist for the highly influential Detroit proto-punk band MC5, has died. He was 75.

The news was announced Friday, February 2, in a post on Kramer’s Facebook reading, “Wayne Kramer passed away today peacefully from pancreatic cancer. He will be remembered for starting a revolution in music, culture, and kindness.”

Kramer was a founding member of MC5, which formed in 1963. The band was particularly known for their 1969 song “Kick Out the Jams,” the impact of which can be heard throughout the last 50 years of rock music, and they memorably performed for Vietnam War protesters during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

“Brother Wayne Kramer was the greatest man I’ve ever know,” Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello writes in an Instagram post. “He possessed a one of a kind mixture of deep wisdom & profound compassion, beautiful empathy and tenacious conviction. His band the MC5 basically invented punk rock music and was the only act to not chicken out and performed for the rioting protestors at the 1968 Dem National Convention.”

MC5 broke up in 1972, and Kramer fell into drug addiction and spent time in prison. He detailed his life in the 2018 memoir The Hard Stuff, and became a voice for recovery and prison reform in the rock community.

Kramer played in an MC5 reunion show in 1992 and reformed the band again in 2003. In 2018, Kramer spearheaded a tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Kick Out the Jams album, which featured Soundgarden‘s Kim Thayil on guitar.

In a December 2023 Mojo interview, Kramer revealed that he was working on a new MC5 album with guests including Morello and Slash.

“Whenever and wherever any of us kick out the jams, Brother Wayne will be right there with us,” Morello says.

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