5 Reasons MC5 Should Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
MC5 were one of the most radical bands of the '60s. Their first album, the live Kick Out the Jams, committed some of the most energetic and aggressive performances of any musician to record. The band, which formed in Detroit in 1964, influenced how everything from punk to metal to hard rock has sounded over the past half-century.
For that alone, they deserve a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here are five more reasons.
They Were Real Radicals
Their live album Kick Out the Jams opens with singer Rob Tyner encouraging the audience to join the “revolution.” Even if the revolution didn't happen while they played, the band meant what it said. The members all had ties to the White Panther Party (their “manager,” John Sinclair, was a founding member) and performed concerts in protest of the Vietnam War. They even played at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
They Were One of the First Bands to Say 'Fuck' on Record
While MC5 may not have been the first band to say the word "fuck" on an album, they used it most effectively. The song “Kick Out the Jams” starts with a rallying cry by Rob Tyner to “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” Those famous words complement the relentless proto-punk assault found on the rest of the album.
They Were Punk Forefathers
MC5’s first studio album, 1970's Back in the USA, predicted the affection for late-‘50s and early '60s rock 'n' roll that punk groups like the Ramones celebrated years later. The 11-song album is only 28 minutes long (this was 1970, a time when 28 minutes would have been about normal for one track by other underground artists) and features short covers of Chuck Berry and Little Richard songs. Their live performances were even closer to punk; onstage, the band encouraged audiences to join them in political protest, all the while creating some of the most abrasive music of its time. Many punk bands cite them as an influence. Guitarist Wayne Kramer’s drug charges are even mentioned in the Clash's “Jail Guitar Doors.”
They Had Awesome Hair
Aside from his vocal talents, singer Rob Tyner was known for his awesome hair. Tyner had one of the largest afros in 1969. When coupled with the eclectic fashion of the late '60s, all the members created a strong image on and off stage.
They Are Still Going Strong
More than 50 years later, the group's surviving members (guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson) continue to perform. The band has reunited a few times, though each reunion had been cut short by the death of a member. Kramer, along with British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, worked together on the Jail Guitar Doors Initiative -- named after the Clash song that referenced Kramer -- which provides instruments to inmates. In 2018, Kramer spearheaded the MC50 tour that included members of Soundgarden and Fugazi, among others.