DENNIS 'Kokaine' FRAWLEY
BOB 'Karma' RUDNICK
& THE MC5
After the MC5 released their second 7" Looking at you b/w
Borderline in 1968, manager "John Sinclair, on a trip east
to hustle up work for the band, took the record to East Village Other
(the most influencial and widely read paper served by the web ... and
it was reprinting some of the MC5's exploits) columnists Bob Rudnick
and Dennis Frawley, who also hosted a weekly radio show, "Kokaine
Karma" on WFMU, Upsala College's station and one of the first
underground college stations in the country. There, Sinclair met Danny
Fields, who hosted a show at the station and also happened to be
the "house hippie' for Elektra Records." (from The
Mansion On The Hill by Fred Goodman)
J.Sinclair's trip to New York and the meeting with Bob Rudnick, Dennis
Frawley and Danny Fields happened to be a turning point in MC5's career.
Two months later, they were recording their first album 'Kick Out
The Jams' for Elektra Records.
John Sinclair: "When we released the MC-5's 45 rpm single
of "Looking At You" b/w "Borderline" on the A-Square
label in the Spring of 1968, Rudnick & Frawley immediately slapped
it on the WFMU turntables, where it joined the heady mix of music
by Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan,
Jim Pepper, Larry Coryell and Howlin' Wolf the two scenesters had
devised for their listeners."
"Big Apple radio exposure for our single (pressed in an edition
of only 500 copies) was combined with almost weekly mentions in the
East Village Other as part of Rudnick & Frawley's personal crusade
to insure that everyone they knew was aware of the MC-5."
"This resulted in much big label interest in the band and the
particular attention of a young A&R man at Elektra Records named Danny
Fields, whose opinion at the label had been held in high esteem ever
since he had suggested that "Light My Fire" be lifted from
the first Doors album and issued as a single. Danny Fields also did
an air shift following the "Kokaine Karma Show" on Friday
evenings at WFMU, where Rudnick & Frawley's repeated spins of "Looking
at You" had kindled his interest in the MC-5. Bob and Dennis
introduced me to Danny one night while I was visiting the station
during a typically kamikaze venture into New York City in hopes of
landing a record deal for the MC-5, and we hit it off at once."
Rudnick: Remembering The Righteous One by John Sinclair)
Soon after, MC5's first LP entitled "Kick Out The Jams" was
recorded live at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit.
"To stoke the interest in the album, Elektra organized a short
East Coast tour.
The idea was to establish the MC5 in three of the most important markets:
Boston, Cleveland, and New York." (from 'The Mansion
On The Hill')
First, at Don Law's Boston Tea Party in Boston, headlining the
show was the Velvet Underground.
Fred Goodman: "In the spirit of solidarity with other
revolutionary enclaves, Sinclair and the band agreed to turn some
of their time, and the microphone, over to a member of a New York
anarchist cell known as the Motherfuckers ... Once they got the spotlight,
however, they told the crowd they were being ripped off by the Tea
Party ... Don Law was less than amused. He banned the MC5 from the
club. But perhaps even worse than being barred from the city's most
important rock venue was the fact tha Law was one of a tightly knit
group of key rock promoters that, for all intents and purposes, had
control of the national rock and roll touring circuit." (From 'The
Mansion On The Hill')
Rob Norris remembers: "One night the MC5 opened for The Velvets;
this was when the 5 were at the height of their politically active
period and they were accompanied into town by a whole troup of leather-clad
White Panther crazies and a raving MC who after their dynamite set
exhorted the audience to tear down the hall because it was not large
enough to hold their energies and take to the streets. When The Velvets
came on, Lou spoke first to everyone present, saying, 'I'd just like
to make one thing clear. We have nothing to do with what went on earlier
and in fact we consider it very stupid. This is our favorite place
to play in the whole country and we would hate to see anyone even
try to destroy it!' The Detroit contingent was stunned by this remark
and the thunderous applause that followed it." (From Kicks magazine,
1979 & Velvet
Next at Bill Graham's Filllmore East in New York.
Dennis Frawley and Bob Rudnick reported the event in
the East Village Other:
Check the whole timeline & story of the East Coast
(Excerpt:) Lenny Kaye: "Their
extravagant prose led me to expect a lot, but the band didn't let
me down. They were startlingly good. They were also being hollered
at by certain audience members almost from the beginning. There weren't
that many of them, but there doesn't need to be to cause a disruption,
which was obviously the intention. The further the MC5 got into their
set, the rougher it got around them. Things were being thrown. When
they finished, the street people swarmed onto the stage. Finding the
microphones turned off, they attacked the equipment. The picture from
that night that stays with the most vividly is of some deranged guy
taking a chain and whipping it repeatedly over the drummer's cymbals."
(From MOJO Sept. 2002 - The Battle Of New York by Ben Edmonds)
"As the band members made their way toward the cars Elektra had sent
to ferry them back to their hotel, the crowd's verbal abuse crossed
the line into physical ugliness. They angrily showered the vehicles
with rocks, debris, and the 45s that had been given away at the show."
Danny Fields: "My tragic, stupid error was bringing the band
to the gig in a limousine ... the Motherfuckers are saying, "We want
a free night," and this revolutionary band pulls up in a stretch Cadillac.
The crowd went wild and broke down the doors and damaged the theater."
(From FOLLOW THE MUSIC by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws)
Bob Rudnick: "They thought the MC5 was just gonna be a front
for them. Every time the MC5 accomodated them, they'd make more outrageous
demands. They expected that the band would turn the stage over to
them at the Elektra show so they could continue their war with Graham.
When the 5 said no, that this was their night, the Motherfuckers got
pissed off at them too." (MOJO Sept02)
... here we are.
Fred Goodman: "Getting on the wrong side of Graham [of
the Fillmores] was worse than crossing Don Law [of the Boston Tea
Party]. As the top rock promoter in both New York and San Francisco,
he effectively blackballed the band from both cities." ('The Mansion
On The Hill')
Useful links :
The Battle Of New York by Ben Edmonds
- sept.2002, #106 of MOJO magazine - 'The Battle Of New York' is available
through the online Rock's
I Have Known and Loved by Wayne Kramer
Of The MC5
"WFMU is a radical example, an archetype, of the new radio movement
that has been gathering momentum in recent years... They call what they
do at FMU "free-form radio"... It started for East Orange
in June of 1968. Rather than take the usual three-month summer holiday,
some of the station's staff decided to try to keep FMU on the air during
the vacation period... Free-form radio was born...
Help began to arrive. Bob Rudnick and Dennis Frawley, columnists for
the East Village Other, had wanted to get into nonprint thing and they
went out to East Orange to do a nightly show."
"Studio B, a soundproofed room with a four-hundred-pound door,
was the only professional-looking area at the station. There, nightly,
the Kokaine Karma show originated.
Bob Rudnick and Dennis Frawley, both twenty-six and known collectively
as Kokaine Karma, were the station's gold dust twins. A fair indication
of how they think was the way they arrived at their name. They needed
a title for their weekly music, gossip and obscenity column in the East
Village Other and so they free associated:
"Uh, cops, crayons ... uh, cocaine," said Frawley.
"Uh, clams, crepes ... uh, karma," said Rudnick.
"Cocaine Karma!!!" the two shouted in gleeful unison.
The Other misspelled "cocaine" as "Kokaine" and
it stayed that way."
"Kokaine Karma features lots of heavy new jazz, especially Coltrane,
guests dredged from the four corners of the earth and insane rapping.
"Hello, kokaine mothers here tonight ..." says Frawley.
"... with the music to set your toes tapping," says Rudnick.
"Had no trouble getting out to East Orange tonight, even though
the car we bought for seventy-five dollars has been towed away - lovely
lady drove us out..."
"... ans will be driving us back. Just want to let all the junkiers
on the lower East Side know I'm not at home, they worked on my door
for two hours the other night, I'd like to wish them continued good
luck but no matter..."
"..: indeed two guests here tonight, Arlene Shubow, the famed
goddess from Coral Gables and Gilbert, uh, Barbarian, is it?"
"No, no. Bi-ber-ian, going to play a little classical guitar
"... not actually a little classical guitar, regular sized, if
you know what I mean."
"When Rudnick and Frawley do their show, there is turmoil in the
station. Roger Dangerfield engineers and gesticulates, chicks from record
companies smile sweetly and cross their legs. There is so much pizza
eating, money grubbing and soda guzzling. The two have their own brand
of congenital madness. They are a life force.
It is quiet at WFMU after they leave. The old yellow house is still,
save for the settling of the walls and the soft sounds of Vin Scelsa
doing the all-night show."
Radio : The New Wave by Robert Greenfield, published in 'EYE' magazine
Useful links :
Historic WFMU Archive Listen here a never-before aired tape
of WFMU's coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention,
with Vin Scelsa, and the Kokaine Karma team, Dennis Frawley & Bob
Lester Bangs: "Well yeah there was, in the very late 60's
and the very early 70's you had in certain places in the United States,
what was called your 'Free Form' Underground rock radio. Which began
I guess '68 in East Orange New Jersey with a show called 'KoKaine
Karma' with Bob Rudnick & Dennis Frawley, and Danny Fields was also
on the same station. They would play Sun Ra, MC5, John Coltrane, Bach,
Chuck Berry, they just played everything, they played what they wanted
to play. And I know that when I first moved to Detroit it was somewhat
like that at a station there called WABX." (Lester
Bangs interview / CousinCreep)
In 1969, Dennis Frawley and Bob Rudnick went to Detroit, home of the
MC5 and radio station WABX.
Frawley and Bob Rudnick brought their "Kokaine Karma" show to ABX during
the summer ... Several months later, they were fired over a difference
in "politics, economics and taste," Rudnick headed for Chicago, but
Frawley was back at ABX in a month." (From an article
commemorating WABX's 5th anniversary / Rusted Chrome)
"In the spring, though, Bob Rudnick and Dennis Frawley, a pair
of media gypsies from New York, arrived with an already established
program which had been recently scratched at WFMU in New Jersey. The
Kokaine Karma show was one of the better utilizations of air space in
radio history; besides the music, which ranged from Fats Domino/Little
Richard segues to whole sides of Archie Shepp, the show also had Bob's
acid tongue and Dennis' laconic wit to comment on some of the more controversial
aspects of the alternative culture's contemporary affairs. As the summer
wore on, and despite the 2 to 6 a.m. time slot, the Karma show became
more familiar in Detroit."
By August several developments had occurred. For one, Carlisle was
being wooed away from WABX by WKNR-FM. More significantly, Rudnick and
Frawley were in danger of losing their show; Rudnick claims to have
been told that they were "playing too much jazz" and his heavy-handed
blasts at innumerable sacred cows, both local and national, weren't
going over too well at the management level either."
"Then, in one incredible day, Rudnick and Frawley were fired,
without much explanation from WABX, and Carlisle resigned. Dan's resignation
said that he was quitting because of "WABX's refusal to offer a competitive
salary" and because of "the firing of Rudnick and Frawley." Carlisle
chose, of course, the proper move to make at the proper time; it's clear
that Dan would have left, regardless of whom the station fired or hired.
He made that clear to the area in an article in CREEM at the time. But
his resignation did have one remarkable effect. John Detz, WABX station
manager, offered Rudnick and Frawley their jobs back; Dennis accepted.
Rudnick, who's not exactly known for his lack of pride or ability to
exist in a restricted situation, didn't. Whatever, the war of the radio
stations was on."
Vol 2, #10 - THE MICHIGAN SCENE TODAY By Dave Marsh, Deday LaRene and
Barry Kramer / Motor City Music Archives)
Useful links :
Rudnick (July 31, 1942 - July 23, 1995)
Rudnick : Remembering The Righteous One by John Sinclair
On People Now, Smile On Your Brother by Danny Miller