MC5 Guitarist and Founding Member Wayne Kramer Dead at 75


MC5 "Kick Out the Jams" album cover

MC5’s Wayne Kramer is dead at the age of 75- Story by Scarlett Hunter, Album artwork via Warner Spec. Mkt. Uk

Influential MC5 guitarist and co-founder Wayne Kramer has passed away. He was 75. The news of Kramer’s death came via his Instagram. A message posted Friday (Feb. 2) to his official account, stating, “Wayne S. Kramer. ‘PEACE BE WITH YOU.’ April 30, 1948-February 2, 2024.” The message didn’t include a cause of death.

The MC5 are considered one of the most influential bands in punk and hard rock. They weren’t the first punk rock band, but their song “Blitzkrieg Bop” is certainly one of the most famous. Hailing from Detroit, The MC5 are one of the most famous pioneering rock bands from the Motor City, offering a mix of rock ‘n’ roll, new wave and post-punk.

Kramer and fellow guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith formed MC5 in 1963. The classic lineup of the band brought together Kramer, Smith, vocalist Rob Tyner, bass player Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson. Now, with Kramer’s passing, Thompson is the only surviving original member of the band. Tyner passed away in 1991 at age 46; Smith died in 1994 at age 46; and Davis passed away in 2012 at age 68.

The MC5 has been eligible for the Rock &a Roll Hall of Fame since 1992. They’ve also been nominated a whopping six times: in 2003, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022. But, they haven’t been inducted yet.

In a feature on rock ‘n’ roll rebels, Rolling Stone described Detroit’s MC5 as, “a hard-driving rock group whose members shared a love of the period’s chaotic free jazz. When they began performing, one writer said their sound was like ‘a catastrophic force of nature the band was barely able to control.'” They added that even thought the band “burned out early, after the disappointing commercial performances of their first three albums. But their legacy as radical rockers and punk progenitors lives on.”

As for his personal life, Kramer married Margaret Saadi on Feb. 23, 2003. He and his wife adopted a baby boy named Francis 2013. In 2018, Kramer published a personal memoir called “The Hard Stuff.” Also that year, he announced the MC50 tour to honor the 50th anniversary of “Kick Out the Jams.” He is survived by Saadi and Francis.

Now, rockers are paying tribute to Kramer. Tom Morello took to Instagram to state, “Brother Wayne Kramer was the best man I’ve ever known. 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.”

Morello continued, ” Wayne came through personal trials of fire with drugs and jail time and emerged a transformed soul who went on to save countless lives through his tireless acts of service. He and his incredible wife Margaret founded @jailguitardoorsusa, which founds music programs in prisons as life-changing, effective rehabilitation. I’ve played with Wayne in prisons and watched him transform lives, he was just unbelievable. Wayne had a soft heart but was also Detroit tough as nails. A couple of months ago (at 75 years old), Wayne beat the crap out of an intruder in his home that menaced his family. And whenever any charity or union or human rights activist event was coming up, Wayne would always heed the call. ALWAYS.”

Scarlett Hunter
Posted by Scarlett Hunter | Music, Rock, Rock News