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." (from Bob 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 Underground Webpage)

Next at Bill Graham's Filllmore East in New York.

Dennis Frawley and Bob Rudnick reported the event in the East Village Other:

East Village Other newspaper
Kokaine Karma article

Check the whole timeline & story of the East Coast tour here

(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." (MOJO Sept02)

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 Backpages library
Riots I Have Known and Loved by Wayne Kramer
Legends Of The MC5


WFMU radio station

"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 for us..."
"... 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."
(From Turned-On Radio : The New Wave by Robert Greenfield, published in 'EYE' magazine - Nov.1969)

Useful links :
A 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 Rudnick.

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.

WABX radio station"Dennis 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."
(From CREEM Vol 2, #10 - THE MICHIGAN SCENE TODAY By Dave Marsh, Deday LaRene and Barry Kramer / Motor City Music Archives)

Useful links :
Bob Rudnick (July 31, 1942 - July 23, 1995)
Bob Rudnick : Remembering The Righteous One by John Sinclair
Come On People Now, Smile On Your Brother by Danny Miller


© 2007 MC5 GATEWAY