©1972 by John Sinclair

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2. Rock & Roll Dope #3

    I promised you when I started this column that I'd take you behind the scenes in the rock and roll industry so you can see what your bands have to go through just to be able to do their thing on stage, and ever since I said that so many weird things have been going on that I hardly know where to start. But the Grande Ballroom scene last Sunday was probably the weirdest of all, and if you just paid your money and sat and waited for the MC5 that night, you deserve to know that it wasn't the band that kept you waiting in all that heat - it was the creeps who took your money. Be advised.

    The MC5's freek scene at the Grande Ballroom June 7th (as reported in the last issue of the FIFTH ESTATE ) has touched off a string of creep scenes with clubowners around Michigan, starting at- you guessed it - the Grande itself. So far only two major incidents have gone down, but if they're any indication you can look for a lot more shit to hit before the fan is shut off.
    There was a long line of rock and roll fiends waiting outside the Grande last Sunday night (June 23rd) when the 5 arrived at 6:45 to play the evening concert with Blue Cheer and the Psychedelic Stooges. The band was ready to kick'em out like never before, but we were accosted by greedhead Glantz before we could even get to the dressing room and warned not to use any "dirty words," no nakedness on stage, and no incidents with the American flag, "real or simulated," during the band's performance.
    We told him that we just wanted to do our show and make the people happy, but he didn't seem to be too convinced and ended up threatening to turn off the power on stage (I guess he meant the electricity) at the first sign of any obscene language or any other tom-foolery. At this point I overheard the conversation and told Glantz to go away and count his money and leave us alone, whereupon he ordered us not to play the evening's performance and stomped off to the ticket office.
    I has been talking with reinstated Ballroom manager Larry Feldmann about the order of performance when the business with Glantz went down, and Feldmann immediately got on the phone to Russ Gibb, who made it down to the Ballroom with his attorney to see what was going on.
    Meanwhile the Stooges were forced into starting the first set - by this time it was maybe 8 o'clock and getting hotter all the time, and the Grande was still filling up with easily-recognized MC5 addicts who began to wonder what the fuck was going on when the Stooges finished and the record player went back on.
    No MC5. The band was in the downstairs office with Gibb and his attorney, talking it out. Management contended that for the band to go on stage and kick out the jams would result in an immediate bust - if not of the band then of the Ballroom itself. The band maintained that Glantz had created the whole affair (there were supposed to be three detectives there ready to snatch the Grande's license if any more unAmerican shit went down) because he wanted to get rid of us, and that if we couldn't do our show at the Grande without being submitted to prior censorship then the place might as well be closed, because we didn't even want to play there anyway if we couldn't play what the people wanted to hear.
    This argument went back and forth for more than an hour, with us trying to get Gibb to understand the significance of what he was trying to do - to see that the Grande had been created by the people as a place where they could get down and do what they wanted to do, and that he was actually destroying the beautiful thing that has been built up in that place over a period of two whole years - but nothing was happening toward a resolution until a brother named Gut, one of Blue Cheer's managers and a righteous freek himself, came into the office and told Russ that his band couldn't go unless the MC5 went on, "because the audience wants to hear the MC5 and won't settle for anything less."
    Upstairs the people were chanting "MC5! MC5!" and getting madder and madder by the minute. By this time it was way after 9 o'clock and Russ was still wondering what to do. He had to be reminded that the MC5 had opened the Ballroom with him, had worked there for free to get it off the ground, was still working for peanuts ($125.00 a night!), our light show (Trans-Love Lights) was getting $25.00 a night for 6 people working 5 hours, Grimshaw still gets $25.00 a poster, the Ballroom is packed every weekend now and it's bad enough that the people who were supposed to share in the profits don't share in them. But now if people can't talk like they want and do what they want there, then the whole thing just ain't worth it. He had to be reminded that we hadn't started the bullshit about the "dirty words" - we ALWAYS used them - but Glantz had, and that all we wanted to do was play our music or else go home - forever. And take the light show, the Trans-Love store, and everything else we'd brought - including the Ballroom's MOJO - with us.
    The act of worker's solidarity by Blue Cheer seemed to've been the decisive factor in the whole thing - after all, THEY were the "big band from out of town" and we were just the local chumps - and at 9:30 Russ decided that the MC5 had better go on, even though his attorney advised him that the police could easily lift his license if they wanted to. (We had tried to tell him that they could lift his license anytime ANYWAY, if they really wanted to, but that only scared him even more.) Actually, the final decision was made when Glantz appeared in the office and told Russ that the alleged defectives were no longer upstairs. That was all he needed to get out of this mess.
    When the MC5 charged on stage the crowd exploded. The audience, estimated at some 1500 on a Sunday evening (the biggest Sunday night crowd in the Grande's history), knew something funny was going on, but they'd waited for the 5 through a whole hour of silence as the heat level in the place mounted, and when Wayne Kramer kicked off the show with Ted Taylor's old smoker "Ramblin' Rose" they were really ready for it. And when Tyner leaped out and hollered "KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER!" everything broke loose. Hands shot up in the air and never came down as the band truly kicked out the motherfucking JAMS.
    Our original plan had called for an hour-and-a-half set of new and established material which the band had been working on all week so the people would get as much music as they deserved for being so far out, but four songs into the set Gibb sent word to the stage that his attorney (who had been "monitoring" the show) had to leave, and that the band would have only one more piece to play.
    I relayed the message to Tyner in between tunes, and Tyner BLEW UP. He ran the whole thing down to the people, telling them it was "another bullshit Grande Ballroom scene" and that they were being cheated out of what they were supposed to get because of the creeps who ran the place. The freeks in the audience started hollering for Gibb's ass. "Kick out Uncle Russ, motherfucker!" someone shouted from the middle of the room. Tyner was furious, looking around the place for Gibb and, finally spotting him, screamed into the microphone: "One of these days / and it won't be long / you'll look for ME mister / and down the road I'll go. . . . cuz I BELIEVE, to my SOUL," and everybody knew exactly what was being said. Tyner directed all his energy at that one spot and made Gibb leave the room, only to send his flunkies back to shut off the electricity to the stage before the music could be fully realized. But things won't be the same there for quite some time now, and the people are getting hip to what the real deal is.
    On Tuesday (June 25) our booking agent called to report that the job at the Jackson Hullabaloo for that night had been cancelled when the local police read about the flag scene in the FIFTH ESTATE and took the Hullabaloo manager to the City Council, which threatened to rip up his license if he allowed the MC5 to play his club. The clubowner was pissed off because he knew he would've made some money, but he was so thoroughly convinced that the police would pull a stomp scene that he broke his contract with the band and cancelled.
    Other clubowners around the state are beginning to realize that it would be in their best interest to hire the MC5, no matter what they think of our show. The people who have to have the music are the ones who control the scene anyway, once you let these clubowners know what they have to do to keep you coming back. Let them know, and we'll see you then. Kick out the jams!

[Printed in the FIFTH ESTATE, July 4-18, 1968]     [ L I B R A R Y ]     [ MC5 GATEWAY ]

Rock & Roll Dope #3 ©1968 by JOHN SINCLAIR
Reprinted by permission of the author