TESTIFY!"... That's just the way it was in Detroit ; you had to come out and KILL. That became sort of embedded in stone with the MC5, the whole Kick Out The Jams thing was like the first three tunes, the first eleven minutes of it was everything they said it was ; it was absolutely rivetting, an amazing opening... with no way to follow it. And that's what Detroit bands were known for ; they were known for gettin' off the dime, because the audience was so intense that if you didn't deliver right off the bat you were dead, that's all there is to it." (Scott Richardson of SRC interviewed by Ken Shimamoto for Shindig! magazine #6)


KICKM---------------------C-------------- FIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!OUTTHEJAMSM---- O ------- - -T-----H ----E -----R -- --- F--U--C-K-E-R    ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!!!THE---------


Fred Goodman: The growing success of the Grande was certainly helping to establish the MC-5, but Sinclair was doing a good deal to stoke their growing reputation as Detroit's revolutionary/outlaw rock band. It was simple. Sinclair was both a columnist for the city's underground paper, and - because of his public advocacy of drug use - a police target. There was always plenty of trouble to go around, and Sinclair began to use his column to chronicle the "revolutionary guerrilla tactics" of the MC-5. It wasn't long before Sinclair had transformed a series of relatively minor scrapes with the law into an ongoing war with the pigs, played out every other week in the pages of the Fifith Estate. (MH)

Recording of titles BORDERLINE / LOOKING AT YOU at United Sound Studios, Detroit

Wayne Kramer:
"I'd set my amp up to sound the way i wanted, because i don't just play the guitar, i play the amp, too. That sound i got, it had an energy to it. The engineer would say "Turn it down, it's too distorted." (DTP#1)
John Sinclair: "People who were around then will remember the magic MC5 shows at the Grande that were starting to evolve out of that whole context; every time the band played there it was a mystical experience unlike anything in the history of music. They blew other bands away completely! I remember when The Beacon Street Union came into town riding high on the 'Boston Sound' hype, the 5 DESTROYED them - so bad that it was embarassing!
The news of that encounter spread across the country, and when the first tour of Blood Sweat & Tears was due to visit Detroit, Gibb was instructed by Columbia Records, that the MC5, who were scheduled as support band, were to be taken off the bill. So the Stooges took our place, and they DESTROYED Blood Sweat & Tears!
The biggest boost to the 5 and their fans was when the legendary Big Brother & the Holding Company rode into town on the biggest myth in the business, and got wiped out by the 5 on the first night." (ZZ74)

1st Friday / Big Brother & The Holding Company, MC-5, Pink Peech Mob *Grande Ballroom*
Jerry Goodwin:
"There are some great stories of the MC5's tenure at the Grande including the night that Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company refused to come on stage after a blistering set that had the crowd frenzied and frothing at the mouth. I think her words were "NO FUCKING WAY." (PS)
Now, their set list includes song "Kick Out The Jams"

Wayne Kramer:
"Tyner and I used to write at the kitchen table, with a little amplifier, and smoke a lot of marijuana. I would just play guitar and he would say, “Wait! That there. Play that again.” One day we were coming up with some new tunes, and we said, “Let's use [the phrase] ‘kick out the jams’ [in a song].” He went off to the bedroom and came back in a minute and said “I got it. I got it!” I’ve only found out through reading interviews with Rob that he was actually talking to the rest of us in the band in that song – “Let me be who I am.” I mean, Rob Tyner didn’t want to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. He said, “No, man, I want to play jazz. Rock’s for squares. That’s kiddy stuff. Listen to [Charles] Mingus.” It wasn't until he heard the Rolling Stones that he said, “Whoa, this changes everything.” "
Christopher Skelton: " ... one very hot summer's day in 1968 ... an evening show was scheduled featuring Ann Arbor, Michigan's The Rationals and the then unknown MC5. This was to be the MC5's debut performance in Sarnia and we hadn't the faintest idea of what to expect from them ... As usual, I happened by the Sarnia Arena a few hours before the show was to begin and noticed a group of young men wrestling amplifiers and drums out of an old, battered van in the oppressive heat of the day. I wandered over and asked them if I could give them a hand unloading their truck. My offer was immediately accepted and I was soon assisting them, lugging huge stacks of amplifier cabinets, drums and amp heads into the darkness and relative coolness of the arena. All I could think was, "Oh Mein Godt! These are REAL Marshall amps!" During a short break I learned from one of the fellows, who later turned out to be singer Rob Tyner, that they were members of the band MC5. I was introduced to the other members and we all spent a few minutes laughing about how hot and humid Canada can be in the summer. When the work was completed and the stage was finally set up, I was invited to join the band in their "dressing room", (actually, it was just a Spartan changing room for hockey teams), and was rewarded for my labors with a couple of cold beers, a wee hit or three, and some White Panther Party badges and literature from the band's manager, John Sinclair. (John Lennon later wrote a song about Sinclair when the manager was sentenced to a term of ten years in a federal penitentiary for the paltry possession of two joints). The band, I was told, was an important vehicle of "Trans-Love Energies" which spread the gospel of revolutionary ideals. The band had to get ready for their show and I then departed to meet up with my friends to get a good seat upon the floor in front of the stage. Although The Rationals were advertised as the headliners, they opened the show instead ... Now it was time for the MC5. I was most interested in hearing them, especially after my fleeting contact and introduction ... "BROTHERS AND SISTERS!" boomed John Sinclair from the P.A. system. This was followed by a speech that was politically charged and was delivered in an intensity that was reminiscent of the Black Gospel Church sessions that I used to love watching on late night Detroit television. Revivalist indeed! At the top of his lungs, Sinclair asked everyone to actively stand up and fight all oppression in society and government. The MC5 were then introduced to us as a "testimonial" to these very ideals and the first notes from their guitars erupted! Such a gloriously loud sound! It was as if the Universe was being pummeled and then torn apart. Never before had we heard a band play as loud or as ferocious as they did. Pure conviction. It was truly stunning and almost unimaginable that music could be played so loud and yet be so good! It readily became apparent that this was a very unique band, featuring not just one but two lead guitarists. Fred "Sonic" Smith and Wayne Kramer pushed one another to new sonic heights. Now this may certainly seem passé in these so-called modern times, but this was something very much new. You could almost see the sparks of pure energy flying off one another. Screaming Mosrite and Fender Stratocaster guitars echoed throughout the arena. It was breathtaking in an absolute pure sense ... I'm afraid the passage of time has pretty much obliterated from memory their entire set list, but I do vividly recall four songs that ran clear and true that night. "Borderline", "Starship", "Black To Comm" and an explosive version of "Looking At You". I certainly don't recall their famous "Kick Out The Jams" that evening but it would later become a crowd favorite whenever they returned to Sarnia for future shows. When the show was finally over it was all one could do to get up and leave the arena. It was as if you had just been run over by a speeding Mac truck and were helplessly awaiting the paramedics to come rescue you. A sonic assault that left the entire audience spent ... Music was suddenly alive and in a form that few in our beloved Chemical Valley had ever seen before. After witnessing this exhausting testimonial, many became immediate believers in the music and message of the MC5. When the last vestige of feedback subsided, it was clear that the bloody Cowsills were dead from that moment forward and thank goodness for that! The rest of the world will hear of these musicians." more
"Sinclair's Fifth Estate columns are being reprinted in other underground newspapers around the country ... the most influencial and widely read paper served by the web is New York's East Village Other (or EVO), and Sinclair is delighted to discover that it is reprinting some of the MC5's exploits." (MH)

Mike Mitch : "I first saw the MC5 at the Shadowland Ballroom in Benton Harbor Michigan. About 1968 I think. There was a buzz going around that "the coolest band in the world was coming to BH" and they were from Michigan. There was also a rumour the Police were gonna bust the five! Sure enough the night of the concert Shadowland is crawling with cops (or pigs as we called them then). If the five said "Motherfuckers" in the intro to Kick out the Jams they were busted. So brother J.C.Crawford came out did his rap and intro and the five get ready.."and now it's time to"......Rob steps to the mic and there is dead silence.."KICK OUT THE JAMS.".. he looks around the police tense and he shouts B E N T O N H A R B O R ! The pigs are totally deflated we are assauled by a wall of music and I experianced the best rock n' roll show ever! They did all the hits plus James Brown's Papa's Got a Brand New Bag with John Sinclair on saxophone. I was in the second row behind a little girl in a wheelchair. Rob Tyner played up to her during I Want You Right Now. When he crawled to the edge of the stage near her she peed her pants. After the show we tried to go back stage but the cops said "nobody was getting back there with those animals." I think they honestly believed the MC5 would corrupt us if we got close to them. What they didn't realize is they were too late!We had just been changed forever by the best rock n roll band in the whole world."

Ken Kelley:
"I'll never forget the first time i saw the MC5 perform that hot June night in 1968 at the Grande Ballroom ... The ozone scent of anticipation quickened my pulse as Rob Tyner jumped to center stage and shouted 'Kick out the jams, motherfuckers !,' the opening rant into The 5's anthemic underground hit song. As Tyner squirmed and sang, behind him were two sparkle-sequined guitarists who traded-off lead in a fervid fusillade of fiery notes and converged the role of rhythm into flesh-tingling licks of backup vibration: Wayne Kramer on Fender guitar and Fred Smith on Mosrite guitar was how the band described the arrangement. "High-energy !", in the vernacular tribute of the times. When Fred played solo on his trademark-tune, 'Rocket Reducer No.62', you knew why he got his name 'Sonic' - the only word that packed enough 'G-force.' Solo, his raven-black pupils vanished under hooded lids, his spine stiffened like a bolt, snug-tight in pink satin pants, his pink-sequined jacket draped his torso behind the gleaming-white instrument he'd back-and-forth stab into the outer space above his head. He leaped up and down, lurching in freaky Frankensteinian jolt-steps while simultaneously spinning around the stage in swirling orgiastic gyrations of musical frenzy, like some demonic pogo stick in the eye of a tornado funnel.
When Fred played, sex itself explodes on stage." (ATN)
Bob Rudnick and Dennis Frawley, columnists for the EVO, go out to East Orange to do a nightly show on WFMU.

"Sinclair, on a trip east to hustle up work for the band, took the record (Looking At You/Borderline) to EVO columnists Bob Rudnick and Dennis Frawley, who also hosted a weekly radio show, "Kokaine Kharma," 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." (MH)
7 Wednesday / Publication of an article in the Ann Arbor Sun announcing the Festival Of Life on Sunday 25 of August in *Lincoln Park*, Chicago.
25 Sunday / Norman Mailer about the MC5 appearance at the Democratic Convention in Chicago: It was an orderly crowd. Somewhere between one and two thousand kids and young adults sat on the grass and listened, and another thousand or two thousand, just arrived, or too restless to sit, milled through an outer ring, or worked forward to get a better look. There was no stage - the entrance of a flatbed truck from which the entertainers could have played had not been permitted. so the musicians were half hidden, the public address system - could it work off batteries? - was not particularly clear . For one of the next acts it bardly mattered - a young white singer with a cherubic face, perhaps eighteen, maybe twenty-eight, his hair in one huge puff ball teased out six to nine inches from his head, was taking off on an interplanetary , then galactic, flight of song, halfway between the space music of Sun Ra and "The Flight of the Bumblebee," the singer's head shaking at the climb like the blur of a buzzing fly, his sound an electric caterwauling of power corne out of the wall ( or the line in the grass, or the wet plates in the batteries) and the singer not bending it, but whirling it, burning it, flashing it down some arc of consciousness, the sound screaming up to a climax of vibrations like one rocket blasting out of itself, the force of the noise a vertigo in the cauldrons of inner space - it was the roar of the beast in all nihilism, electric bass and drum driving behind out of their own non-stop to the end of mind. - More -

Charles E Reisen
excerpt from his novel "Playing Guts Ball" (fiction) : "Carl got up the next morning and went down to Lincoln Park with Joey and Clark. It was a different kind of demonstration, more like a big lawn party for hippies. There weren't many straights; no suburban mommy peace groups around, but it was a friendly crowd. The Chicago Outlaws motorcycle club was there, colors sewn on their leather jackets, and jeans with rawhide lacing, and the Detroit band MC 5 sang and strutted through "Kick Out the Jams, Motherfuckers." Carl got handed a wad of "psychedelic burlesque" Yippie money, with Jimi Hendrix in the president's oval, and the mottoes "strip for peace, in LBJ we trust none, only love is legal tender and private".
Nobody had come around with a bullhorn ordering them to disperse, no warning at all, when Carl noticed the cops massing downfield from the crowd. They charged in a broad front; first Carl was rooted, disbelieving, as huge, snarling cops, shaking their Billy clubs, bore down on him, while his knees turned to jelly. When they came within twenty feet, his schoolyard instincts kicked in, and he ran like hell from the bullies until he could turn around safely. The cops clubbed and chased everybody, hippies, bikers, and musicians, trying to clear the place, but Lincoln Park was big, with room to retreat and regroup. After a while, the cops seemed to be satisfied with just breaking up the big lawn party. Later, they would return to enforce the 11 o'clock curfew in the park. The Yippies had gathered again and were preparing to spend the night; the cops chased them out and through the streets of Old Town.
By then Carl and his friends were on the El up to Evanston, stinking of tear-gas and getting a wide berth. They had no sleeping bags with them, even if they had wanted to sleep in a park crawling with angry cops." (MC5 at Lincoln Park, Chicago Mi. - Sunday 25, August 1968)

John Sinclair: " The Elektra contract came at the end of September 1968 - and the peak of their (MC5's) discontent. Just before Danny Fields came out to hear the Five and sign them up, we had a decisive argument. We were returning from a manufacturer's party, which we had attended to look at some new equipment. The band had all drunk a lot of alcohol at the party, and i was as pissed off as usual. They started attacking me on the way home, telling me that they were tired of living with my Trans Love Energies crowd, and demanding that they be allowed to get a house of their own. I really got pissed off at that, and told them it was fine by me - that they could move out just as soon as they could afford it. I also told them that if they didn't start taking their work more seriously, i didn't want any more to do with them anyway ... because i wasn't interested in playing nursemaid to a bunch of drunks." (VV)

Danny Fields:
"John Sinclair was a friend of friends of mine, and they put me on their mailing list for all their marvelous graphic propaganda ... My friends persuaded me to go out to Detroit and have a look at MC5 ... I stayed in Sinclair's house, in the commune, i loved the whole situation, the Minister of Defense with the rifle in the dining room, the men pounding on the table for food like cavemen, and all trhe women running in and out of the kitchen with long Mother Earth skirts on and no bras. In the middle of Ann Arbor, this totally middle-class college town. The men did everything but drag them by the hair. Who ever saw anything like it in New York?
I'd never met anyone like Sinclair. He would sit on the can, taking a shit with the door open, barking out orders, like a Lyndon Johnson smoking dope. I became great friends with him right off. I thought he was a fantastic man. He was funny, he liked good food, he liked to hang out, he liked to have plans, and he liked to talk. And he was a business man. He was a promoter. He spoke the same language as everybody in the music business. I virtually signed him myself, gave him a handshake and assured him that getting Jac's approval was a mere formality." (FTM)

John Sinclair:
"In a lightning move, Elektra Records signed the MC-5 and the Stooges to long-term recording contracts in New York September 26th ... The move was engineered by Elektra's publicity director, the young Danny Fields, who flew out to hear the bands last weekend at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit during the 5's triumphant return to their old stomping ground for the first time since they were barred after the Blue Cheer hassle June 26th, and at the Union Ballroom in Ann Arbor where the 5 and the Stooges were playing a benefit for the Children's Community School." (GA)

"Fields - who was supposed to be at the Elektra office - called Holzmann Monday morning from Ann Arbor. He didn't hesitate to lay it on thick. "Jac", Fields said, "you may be upset that i'm not back in New York, but i just found the two most incredible new bands in the United States. You've got to sign them both." "Well," said Holzmann, apparently unfazed, "what do they want?". Fields put his hand over the mouthpiece just long enough to confer with Sinclair. "Twenty thousand bucks." "Okay," said Holzmann. "Twenty thousand for the big one and five thousand for the little one. Shake hands on the deal, and come back to New York." (MH)

26 Thursday / Signature of the long-term contract Elektra/MC-5 in New York.

Danny Fields:
"The MC5 i loved for their vitality and their power, and their hold over large audiences, and that carnival kind of thing whenever they played." (FTM)

Jac Holzman:
"Danny had immaculate taste for the arcane and he knew i'd go for it ... but i was intrigued by how the MC5 maneuvered their music to drive their politics, like a loudspeaker assault on the established order : Who is on the inside, who is on the ramparts? - a rock and roll equivalent of storming the battlements.
... Sinclair wanted the band to be sucessful, and Elektra was a hip label. The signing was easy and immediate. Reveolution are things of the moment and i wanted to record them in the heat of the moment, which meant right away." (FTM)

"Danny Fields had a simple plan for helping the MC5 achieve stardom. He called Richard Goldstein, the pop critic for The Village Voice, and Jon Landau, the chief music critic at Rolling Stone, and told them that Elektra had just signed "the best goddam band in the world." ...
Fields quickly flew Landau out to Detroit to see the band. Landau, who had never heard of the White Panthers or Sinclair, found them intimidating. "I never met anybody like Sinclair," he recalled. "When you shake hands with John Sinclair, you're shaking hands with somebody. He just had a presence." Visiting the White Panther headquarters on Hill Street in Ann Arbor was even more uncomfortable. "These people were just too far out," he said.
Still, when they went to hear the band that night, Landau didn't disappoint Fields. He had reservations about the group's musical abilities, but he was bowled over by their energy ... Sitting in the hotel later that night with Fields, Landau began to critique the show, pointing out the band's strenghts and weaknesses. "Stop right here, man," Fields said. "Write it all down and i'll pay you. Elektra will pay you. Write us a memo of your assessment of the band ...
According to Fields, Landau was instrumental in getting Goldstein to write positive pieces about the band for both The Village Voice and The New York Times. At Rolling Stone, Landau's enthusiasm for the group resulted in a long, fawning article on the MC5 bring promoted to a cover story, an incredible coup for Fields and the band considering that the group didn't even have an album out ...
The MC5 presented Landau with a good opportunity to network and get a foot into record production" (MH)


9 Wednesday / MC5 at the Benton Harbor Hullabaloo
Mike Mitch :
"The Hulabaloo. We all thought it was a lame club. It had these stupid pink cutouts of a boy and girl go-go dancers on the wall behind the stage. There were also big pink cut out letters spelling out HULABALOO on the wall behind the stage. On the night the MC5 played it was really hot and they had the side door by the stage open. By the time we got there they were already into there set and we were pretty high. Now this place wasn't very big and the ceiling wasn't very high. If you were on stage you could reach up grab the stage lights. Given all that it was hotter than hell inside and twice as loud. We loved it! I don't recall what set Fred Smith off but he took his guitar and hit a stage light. I think the management said something and then all hell broke loose! the band was crankin' out "... ramalama fa fa fa" when Fred and Wayne started bashing the lights and Rob Tyner pulled the go-go girl off the wall. The crowd was a mixture of freaks and dorky straight girls who probably thought the MOTOR CITY FIVE played smooth motown music. They started screaming and we urged the Five on to greater excess and then someone pulled the plug on the band and the house lights when on. All the kids were chased out of the club and the five went out the back door. Later we went back in and the place looked demolished. I often thought maybe the owners did some of their own destruction for insurance purposes. There were holes in the ceiling and broken glass and light cells all over the floor. The stage lights were in shambles and the go go dancers and some of the hulabaloo letters were ripped off the wall. I don't think they ever hired another Detroit band. The whole experience was like living inside of a song like "Kick Out The Jams". It was over fast really loud and hard to believe we were there."

Eric Ehrmann: "... I took a week off from classes and drove up to Ann Arbor to visit the MC5 early in October 1968 ...
... The band members wore shirts made from American flags, bullied their girlfriends like cave men and had the balls to preach violent revolution. The action inside their big house on Ann Arbor's fraternity row had more to do with Michoacàn than with Michigan. (As you probably known, Michoacàn is a major marijuana-producing state in Mexico.)
Altough the band members were on friendly terms with local underground journalists, they were suspicious of Rolling Stone, which they viewed as being "soft" on politics. My first night was spent answering their questions. They chided me about being a square from a conservative school in Ohio and asked me why i lived in a frat house instead of a commune and why i liked bourbon more than pot. As an acid test, several of them tried to toke me under the table with marijuana, and filled my head with horror stories about their scrapes with the narcs in the Detroit underground.
Passing the test meant passing the pipe ... When Wayne Kramer and Brother J.C. Crawford started smiling at me and calling me "scribe," i figured i had passed the test."

(photo Leni Sinclair)
The Elektra signing party at Translove house in 1510 Hill Street, Ann Arbor, MI
Bill Harvey: (far right) "We had a picture taken in their house. There must have been a hundred people in one room and the room wasn't very big. They were standing on each other's head, practically. Jac and I, we weren't conservative, but we had jackets on, and we stood out like sore thumbs."

Bruce Botnick:
"The first trip, just for listening, i took along a cassette machine, a little mono portable, with the speaker built in. They played in a ballroom, i sat in the middle, and i was amazed i could still hear afterwards, because it was the loudest thing i had ever heard in my life. I couldn't tell whether they were playing good music, bad music, or no music. But they were these poetical people up on the stage, waving and screaming and going through crazy gyrations, and it was incredible energy. I was blown away." (FTM)

30,31-Wed.,Thu. / ELEKTRA RECORDING at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI

Bruce Botnick: "Jac felt that the only way to capture the MC5 was to record them live. I brought Wally Heider to Detroit from LA, the big matcher of remote recording. He flew the equipment in and we rented a truck, into which we loaded a portable console and dual eight-track recorders. The day of the concert i went inside, i was hooking up my microphones, and i walked out and i see Wally and Jac standing there. They're both staring at the ground. And laying on its back is one of the eight-tracks. They had put it up on the truck and the truck was at a slight angle, and it rolled off and fell six feet to the concrete. We went, "Oh my God, are we going to be able to record?" We picked it up, turned it on, and it was fine.
We recorded for two days, the concert the first night, then the next day we recorded all their songs again, without a pause, just without anybody being there. This was another one of Jac's tricks, because a lot of times when bands are performing it's show time, they're not playing their instruments well, Jac was always thinking how to protect himself." (FTM)
Bruce Botnick: "And i'm this twenty-three-years-old kid, married only weeks before, wearing a blue Sixties long suede jacket, black leather pants ... and, i mean, these guys are very funky. They're looking at us suspiciously, they've got guns and a printing press down in the basement printing revolutionary literature, and there's this kid looking very rich. I was scared shitless. I remember calling my wife and i was so nervous i started to cry over the phone.
We finished and i said to Jac, "Let's go home." He was feeling it too. He got on the phone, he arranged for the flight. And we bundled up the tapes and grabbed a cab.
There were three tunes where the performance was so much better the second day that we took the first note and the last note from the live performance and spliced it onto the so-called studio recording, and nobody was the wiser. You couldn't hear the audiance anyway, the band played so damn loud." (FTM)

Wayne Kramer: "That was Elektra’s idea in the beginning, which we endorsed. We thought it would be kind of a revolutionary act for a band’s first record to be live when conventional wisdom was that about the third album was live. You do two or three studio records to get yourself established at radio and then you could do a cheap live album and score big. Of course, after years of watching the record business, I can look back and say the reason they did it live was because it was cheap. They came out of there with an album for under $10,000."

Michael Davis:
"Our tunes were structured super-free. Like in each tune everybody'd play just what they wanted to play and there'd just be a very general idea of what the song was gonna be, and the musician would just take that idea and go. So consequently our tunes just turned out to be great conglomerations of parts and not any solid things." (c2#4)

Wayne Kramer:
"The first album was a live show, it wasn't an album, it was just what we played on our gig that night. If they would've recorded us another night they would have got an incredibly better response. We'd never been in the record business, you know; we were intimidated by the equipment." (c2#4)
Fred Goodman: "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." (MH)

12,13,14-Thur.,Fri.,Sat. / Velvet Underground, MC-5 *The Boston Tea Party*, Boston, MA
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." (MH)

Rob Norris:
"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." (kicksmag)

Richard Dewhurst:
"That might still be the best rock'n'roll show i've ever seen. Even before they hit the stage you knew you were in for something. They had double-stacks of Marshalls that towered behind them, hung with skull and crossbones and American flags. The hum from their amps on the darkened stage was louder than most other bands played. At one point, Wayne Kramer climbed atop the amps and played his soloo straddling these two double-stacked Marshalls, slowly rocking them back and forth. He did a dive-bomb off 'em just as they were about to collapse on each other, landing on the stage and doing a split, while playing the whole time! They were amazing. It was mysterious, dangerous, thrilling - everything you wanted a band to be. My ears rang for two days afterward, but i didn't care." (Mojo sept02)

Wayne Kramer:
"Oh yes, i remember that show. I leaped off my amp into a knee drop, only to discover that the stage was made of concrete. That was around the time i considered maybe leaving the knee drops to James Brown. My knees were so swollen i could barely get my pants off. We worked real hard that night; i've probably got the bone chips to prove it. We won that one." (Mojo sept02)

16 Monday /
"The 5 arrived in New York on Monday afternoon, having little idea of the mayhem they'd helped unleash in Boston. As far as they knew, it had been just one more night of craziness. They spent the evening at Steve Paul's Scene club where the Rationals were opening for Slim Harpo, with Lightnin' Slim on guitar. The only damage done was to themselves at the bar." (Mojo sept02)

17 Tuesday /
"The next day the band, manger Sinclair, 'spiritual adviser' J.C.Crawford, and assorted roadies and pals trooped up to the Elektra office to check on the progress of their impeding album. These big, hulking, loud Mid-western boys in black leather swaggered in like they owned the place, rolling cigar-sized joints and lighting up wherever they happened to be. Soon the corridors of power were hazy with hemp smoke, while copies of a single that had been specially pressed to be given away at the concert - Kick Out The Jams, with their version of John Lee Hooker's Motor City's Burning on the flip - were being blasted at a volume not conducive to button-down business. Not everyone at Elektra was charmed by their latest acquisition ... That same day the Rolling Stone cover story hit the newsstands, and this band from Detroit that almost nobody had heard was the talk of the town. Later that night the White Panthers met up with the home office of the Motherfuckers. After hearing their blow-by-blow account of the contretemps with "capitalist pig" Bill Graham, Sinclair agreed to have the MC5 play the next night at the community's Wednesday free Fillmore freakout. Only a week away from their own coming-out party at the Fillmore East, and the MC5 risk blunting the impact of the most important show of their lives by playing the same venue for the Motherfuckers?" (Mojo sept02)

18 Wednesday /
"The scene at the Fillmore was nothing like the high-energy rock'n'roll celebrations the MC5 were used to back home. The Wednesday free nights had degenerated into little more than a warm place for street people to conduct their business. Drugs were being dealt, people were being shaken down for money, and gang rivalries were being played out in the aisles. The mood was already tense, and the 5's habitual lateness didn't help. When they finally arrived, the stage was littered with agitated street people, some mumbling ominously about "rock stars keeping us waiting".
When roadie Ron Levine hip-checked one ot them off the stage as the band was coming on, knives were pulled." (Mojo sept02)

Wayne Kramer:
"There's a kind of crowd control where you sort of 'unintentionally' throw a shoulder into someone, or swing your guitar around to create space. Eventually we took the stage back." (Mojo sept02)

"When the band would return to the Big Apple a week later, they would be unaware that the night they'd played was the last free Wednesday before Graham cancelled the series." (Mojo sept02)

26 Thursday /
MC5 *Fillmore East*, New York
Jac Holzman:
"For MC5's first appearance in New York, we rented the Fillmore East on one of its dark nights. Bill Graham asked me to cancel but i didn't want to back down on a commitment made to the band. Bill was concerned about the potential for violence, especially from a bunch of East Villagers calling themselves the Motherfuckers." (FTM)

"John Sinclair found frantic messages from Elektra awaiting him at the hotel. The previous week he'd commited 500 tickets for their show to the Motherfuckers for distribution to the Lower East Side community. In light of what happened since, Graham thought it prudent to lock these tickets in his desk drawer and claim them lost. A Motherfucker spokesman called Elektra and told them that unless they were admitted they'd burn the Fillmore East to the ground. Sinclair sided with the militants. If his promise wasn't honoured, he said, the MC5 wouldn't play. Issuing an ultimatum to their record company and the most powerful promoter in the business was ballsy beyond belief for a band whose record wasn't even out yet, but an hour later the missing tickets mysteriously reappeared. This apparently wasn't enough for the Motherfuckers." (Mojo sept02)

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)

Rob Tyner:
"We were doing OK, but i must admit that i aggravated the situation. We had heard nothing but politics, politics, politics, for weeks, so i said, Look, we're here to play Detroit rock'n'roll, we didn't come here for no bullshit politics. It was true, but it was like poking these crazies with a sharp thick. Then it got even more intense. It turned into something out of that movie Escape From New York, really scary." (Mojo sept02)

Alice Polesky:
"I walked out of the Fillmore East. The Motherfuckers had the place, had liberated it and the vibes were violent: high energy levels without a channeling force can be a dangerous thing (i give you the kind of music the Stones do and Altamont). Super-dangerous. I split just as a rock group, a new group - or new to New York - were about to go on. The lead singer (as he turned out to be) had electric hair and said something like: "We just got in from Detroit and we're horny as shit." Then they started playing this upagainstthewallMotherfucker-Rock. I said, "uh oh," and split. I should have stayed ... I missed (from what i gathered the next day) the Coming Together, the eventual pacification, the amazing chemical transformation upon the audience (for the 5 did eventually turn that diverse group into a real, live audience) that the band effected, using themselves as catalysts: the exchange of bad vibes for good ones." (CH 4/1/70)

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." (Mojo sept02)

Rob Tyner:
"It was really crazy. You'd see knives slicing through the curtains and all that shit while we were playing, and chicks taking off their clothes. People were acting really flipped out. It was some night." (CH 4/1/70)
Rob Tyner: "I went upstairs to the office for a minute after our set, and when i came back down there was all this commotion. I saw a knifeblade come through the stage curtain - slash! slash! - and this head pokes through, leering like a madman. Our gear was flying all over the place. I figured it was a good time to split, but when i opened the backstage door it was even more insane out in the street." (Mojo sept02)

"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." (FTM)

Wayne Kramer:
"These people were screeming and crying that we had sold them out, that we were pigs and capitalists tools. They were throwing trash and smashing our records on the limousine, which took off leaving me and Jesse stranded here. I felt like i had to answer these people who were saying my band wasn't what i was saying it was. So we stood our ground and tried to explain our position to these Motherfuckers, because we felt we'd been righteous throughout, but a mob scene developed. They'd say something, and this chorus of speedfreaks and drunks would start yelling incoherently. I began to pick up menacing movement in the crowd, and saw a knife flash. So did a couple of Motherfuckers leaders, who knew this was about to get way out of hand and personally hustled us back in to the Fillmore. We talked for a while more, but i realised it was pointless." (Mojo sept02)

"The MC5 flew back to Detroit ... at the airport the group was then greeted by a rowdy gaggle of supporters." (Mojo sept02)
Wayne Kramer: "Getting off the plane and finding this rally was really exciting. There were probably only 40 or 50 fans, but to us it feltlike thousands. My youthful fantasies were coming true. It was all working out." (Mojo sept02)

"Graham - who had a fiery temper and was not averse to using goon tactics himself - stood in the Fillmore doorway and refused to let them in. In the ensuing brawl between the crowd and Graham and his bouncers, Graham received a broken nose when he was hit in the face with a chain. Graham would later claim that it was Robin Tyner who hit him with the chain, altough Tyner was almost certainly backstage at the time ... Despite the Boston debacle and the further troubles in New York, Sinclair and the Five sided with the Motherfuckers ... Getting on the wrong side of Graham was worse than crossing Don Law. As the top rock promoter in both New York and San Francisco, he effectively blackballed the band from both cities." (MH)

"On one side, Don Law and Bill Graham were effectively blackballing the band, describing them to other promoters as "dangerous revolutionaries and not to be trusted". On the other side, the Motherfuckers were spreading the word on the underground grapevine that the band were phonies, "insufficiently revolutionary and not to be trusted". (Mojo sept02)
<  1962-67  -  1968  -  1969  -  1970-72  >
Sources & Credits: HERE

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