February 2, 2024

Wayne Kramer, co-founder, guitarist, and singer of the influential Detroit rock band MC5, has died at the age of 75.

Kramer's passing was announced on Friday (February 2) in a post shared to Instagram.

A simple black-and-white photo of the rocker was posted with the caption: "Wayne S. Kramer 'PEACE BE WITH YOU' April 30, 1948 – February 2, 2024."

Kramer died at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, according to Jason Heath, a close friend and executive director of Kramer's nonprofit Jail Guitar Doors. Heath said the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Following the news of Kramer's death, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE guitarist Tom Morello took to social media to write: "Brother Wayne Kramer was the greatest man I've ever known. He possessed a one of a kind mixture of deep wisdom and profound compassion, beautiful empathy and tenacious conviction. His band the MC5 basically invented punk rock music and was the only act to not chicken out and performed for the rioting protestors at the 1968 Dem National Convention."

MC5's sonic thunder continues to reverberate a half-century after they first stormed the rock world with 1969's "Kick Out The Jams", the galvanizing live document that introduced a major voice of late '60s counterculture and proved incomparably influential on metal, punk, stoner rock and almost every other form of loud, boundary pushing music that would follow. The original MC5 lineup recorded two more albums before imploding: 1970's "Back In The USA", produced by rock critic (and future Bruce Springsteen manager) Jon Landau, and their 1971 creative zenith, "High Time". The last days of 1972 also marked the final performance of the original MC5 lineup, thereby ending a turbulent existence marked by their anti-establishment political stance, mainstream radio banishment, FBI harassment, and lots of uncompromising, unequaled rock and roll fury.

Iggy Pop has said the MC5 belong in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame "for their contributions to American music and its politics… They were hugely charismatic and influential. Their beliefs and approach had to do with things much larger than music and these things are coming to light more and more today on the world revolutionary stage. There is no band that I know of as dangerous as the MC5."

Kramer was a well-respected and prolific film ("Talladega Nights", HBO's "Hacking Democracy") and television (HBO's "East Bound And Down") composer. He was recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time".

In recent years, Kramer toured as the MC50 with SOUNDGARDEN's Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron, FAITH NO MORE bassist Billy Gould and ZEN GUERILLA singer Marcus Durant. Four years ago, Kramer announced the formation of WE ARE ALL MC5, a touring "reanimation" of the pioneering band.

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