Sunday, August 03, 2008
Crack In The Universe
In 1965, Wayne Kramer formed a band in Detroit with a few of his friends called The MC5. In a few tulmultous years they became the house band of revolutionary dreams in America and bridged rock and jazz, soul and psychedelia and inspired countless of young musicians to go beyond. What they did is still referred to as an inspiration for todays music around the world. For a few short months, they were the best band on the planet.
They released a few records and recorded live performances are still turning up and being issued in cd form. They broke up in the early 70's, victims of excess and the outlaw image they created for themselves.
The lead singer, bass player and drummer played around Detroit for years, had families and lived pretty average joe lives. Their were 2 guitarists, Fred Sonic Smith and Wayne Kramer. Fred kept active in Detroit with a great banc called The Sonic Rendevouz which featured the great Scott Morgan on vocals. Fred met and married the singer, poet, artist, Patti Smith. Patti retired from performing for 10 years to become a house wife in East Detroit and had 2 children with Fred. They made one record together before he died in the mid 90's. Patti, after Freds death, came out of retirement and had a glorious artistic renaissance whiich is still unfolding.
Wayne, the lead guitarist, was at loose ends. A truly creative musician, he was rated as one of the 100 most influential guitarists by MOJO magazine. He was the last beatnick. He was a performance artist, performing his poetry with his guitar feedback.
He was involved in a drug bust in the 70's and went to prison for a few years. When he got out, formed a potentially very dangerous band called Kramers Gang War with Johnny Thunders. Soon, the combination of the two was counterproductive...The band dissolved in a junkie mess after blowing a record contract.
Kramer went into a period of self rehabilitation and played with the Detroit experimantal band Was/Not Was. In the early 90's he was back. He released a series of powerful, unique and exciting sets of music. Clean and sober, he was making some of the greatest music of his life and proving once again that he could walk the line between Chuck Berry and Sun Ra...he kept walking that line, reunited the surviving members of the MC5 for a 2 year star studded tour in 2005. He even had the aging Sun Ra Arkestra as his opening act and relived the days in the mid 60's when Sun Ra was playing at the Greystone Ballroom in Detroit and The MC5 was jamming with them.
This is a piece from his solo album The Hard Stuff released in 1992.
Wayne is probably 60 now and is still performing with the intesity of a 20 year old and doing live shows continuously with his and other bands. He stil performs his poetry to his live freeform guitar noise and we all are still listening!
The 1996 cd, the David Was produced Citizen Wayne is a brilliant musical autobiographical document...great stuff!