Psychedelic Rock

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United States

Years: 1964 - 1972
Styles: Blues Rock, Garage Rock, Hard Rock, Proto punk, Psychedelic Rock, Rock and Roll


Leo LeDuc - Drums (in band: 1964)
Billy Vargo - Drums (in band: 1964)
Wayne Kramer - Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1964 - Dec, 1972)
Fred "Sonic" Smith - Bass Guitar, Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1964 - Dec, 1972)
Rob Tyner - Bass Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1964; 1964 - Nov, 1972)


Patrick Burrows - Bass Guitar (in band: 1964 - 1964)
Bob Gaspar - Drums (in band: 1964 - 1965)
Michael Davis - Bass Guitar (in band: 1965 - Feb; 1972)
Dennis Thompson - Drums (in band: 1965 - Nov, 1972)
Ray Craig - Bass Guitar (in band: Apr - Jun, 1972)
Steve "Annapurna" Moorhouse - Bass Guitar (in band: Feb - Mar, 1972)
Derek Hughes - Bass Guitar (in band: Mar -Apr,l 1972; Jun - Dec, 1972)
Ritchie Dharma - Drums (in band: Nov - Dec, 1972)

Biography Picture

     Alongside their Detroit-area brethren the Stoges, the MC5 essentially laid the foundations for the emergence of punk-deafeningly loud and uncompromisingly intense, the group’s politics were ultimately as crucial as their music, their revolutionary slogannering and anti-establishment outrage crystallizing the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening. The MC5 celebrated the holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock & roll, their incendiary live sets offering a defiantly bacchanalian counterpoint to the peace-and-love reveries of their hippie contempories. Although corporate censorship, label interference, and lrgal kassles combined to cripple the band’s hopes of mainstreem nototiety, both their sound and their sensibility remain seminal influences on successive generations of artists.[1]

    MC5 formed in 1964 by Rob Tyner , Fred “Sonic” Smith and Wayne Kramer. After two limited single releases, MC5 (Motor City Five) signed a contract with Electra in mid ’68, helped by counter-cultural activist and DJ, John Sinclair. In addition to becoming the band’s manager, he heavily influenced both their political extremism and warped takes on free jazz improvisation. Reflecting the harsher geographical and economic climate of Detroit, the band espoused revolution and struggle as opposed to the love and peace ethos of the sun-kissed Californian flower children. The rioteus proto-punk of their legendary, acid-fuelled live show  was captured on the controversial debut, “Kick Out The Jams”. [2] Picture     Recorded in late October ’68, it eventually hit the shops in May ’69 and while the orginal uncensored pressings contained the line “Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers!”, the offending word was later supplanted with the milder “Brothers and Sisters”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to prevent some record stores from refusing to stock the LP, and after the band explicitly aired their views on one of the aforementioned dealers in a local newspaper, they were duly given the body by Elektra. Neverles, the album reached No. 30 in America and althoughit sounds a bit dated to modern ears, it was way radicalfor the time, remaining an inspiration to each newgeneration of noisenicks.[2]

   Their second album, "Back in the USA", produced by future Bruce Springsteen mentor Jon Landau, virtually provided a prototype for punk rock with its short, fast, hard-edged angry guitar rock. This record was released on Atlantic label, also explaining a vastly different production and marketing effort. The band sounded radically different from Kick, and McLeese writes that except for Tyner's vocals, they were "barely recognizable as the same band." (McLeese, 96) The second album also featured very different production from the first — MC5 now sounded compressed and somewhat limited in their sonic palette compared to their earlier era — band members later said that Landau was overbearing and heavy-handed in production, trying to shape the group to his own liking.[3] Picture

    Their third album, "High Time" would also prove influential on 1970s hard rock bands. The album was poorly promoted, and sales were worse than ever, but "High Time" was the best-reviewed of the band's original records upon its initial release. The group had much more creative control, and were very satisfied with the results. This release saw the band stretch out with longer, more experimental pieces like "Future/Now" and the Sun Ra-influenced "Skunk (Sonically Speaking)".[3]

    On February 13, 1972, Michael Davis left the band (he was using heroin and was all but forced out by the others), and was replaced by a series of bassists (Steve Moorhouse, Derek Hughes, and Ray Craig). The remaining members recorded two new songs — "Gold Rush" (also known as "Gold" and "Train Music") and "Inside Out" — in London shortly afterwards for the soundtrack of a film called "Gold". This would be the band's final recording session.[3]

     Fred "Sonic" Smith formed a new group called Sonic's Rendezvous Band, married singer Patti Smith, retired from music to raise a family, and died in 1994. Sonic's Rendezvous Band released only the "City Slang" single during their initial time as a group. Wayne Kramer made scattered appearances on other people's records before being incarcerated for drug offenses (in prison in Kentucky, Kramer was unexpectedly reunited with MC5 bassist Michael Davis, also behind bars on a drug charge). After his parole, Kramer worked straight jobs for several years and focused on kicking drugs; in the early 1990s, he returned to the music industry, and has released several well-received albums. Rob Tyner became a successful producer, manager and promoter in Detroit; he released the warmly-reviewed Blood Brothers in 1990 a year before his death in September, 1991.[3]

1. All Music Guide to Rock. The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul. 3rd Edition 2002. Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Published by Backbeat Books, page 711-712 - Jason Ankeny
2. The Great Rock Discography - Martin C.Strong, Four Edition, by Canongate Publishing, Ltd. Edinburgh,  p. 520
3. Source:


Back In The USA (1970)
High Time (Jul 6, 1971)

Singles & EPs

I Can Only Give You Everything (Mar, 1967)
Looking At You (Mar, 1968)
Kick Out The Jams (Dec 26, 1968)
Ramblin' Rose (1969)
Tonight / Looking At You (Oct 15, 1969)
Shakin' Street (Mar 13, 1970)

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