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
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
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
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
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 ]