Wayne Kramer of the MC5 reveals the secrets of Kick Out the Jams

Guitarist Wayne Kramer breaks down exactly where the MC5's signature song came from, and what it means a half century down the line.
The MC5 flying the friendly skies. Can you imagine seeing us coming? (Charlie Auringer)

Fifty years ago this fall, a legendary band took the stage in a packed concert hall in their hometown of Detroit. That band went by the name the Motor City Five, but would soon become better known as the MC5. That night, they unleashed one of rock 'n' roll's most enduring anthems, a song called Kick Out the Jams.

The song was high-energy, over-the-top and way ahead of its time. ​Just a few years after that historic night, the MC5 split up, but they left behind a blueprint for the punk rock movement to come — one that included radical politics, boisterous shows and a ton of attitude.

In London, close to the end. Ironically, I'm backing away from the others. Left to Right: Derek Hughes, Rob Tyner, Dennis Thompson, Fred Smith, Wayne Kramer. (Courtesy of Wayne Kramer)

One of the band's founders, guitarist Wayne Kramer, has just written a memoir about his time in the band, called The Hard Stuff. We asked Kramer to break down exactly where the MC5's signature song came from, and what it means a half century down the line.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kick Out The Jams, Kramer will be touring this fall with the all-star band MC50, featuring Soundgarden's Kim Thayil, Fugazi's Brendan Canty, Billy Gould of Faith No More and Marcus Durant of Zen Guerilla. Kramer's new memoir The Hard Stuff is out now. 

Listen to the full conversation with Wayne Kramer near the top of this page. 

Produced by Chris Trowbridge


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