MC5 guitarist and leader Wayne Kramer has died at the age of 75.

"Wayne Kramer passed away today peacefully from pancreatic cancer," a post on the guitarist's official Instagram read. "He will be remembered for starting a revolution in music, culture and kindness.

"If you would like to honor Wayne, donations are appreciated to his nonprofit organization, Jail Guitar Doors."

How Wayne Kramer and MC5 Became Proto-Punk Legends

Kramer got an early start in music, forming MC5 in 1967 while he was still at teenager. The group gained attention for its raucous live performances and strong political statements.

MC5 got their start playing Detroit's Grande Ballroom, mentored by manager and poet John Sinclair, who co-founded the White Panther Party. Their tenure was brief, with the band recording only two major-label studio albums and a live album. Their 1969 debut, the live Kick Out the Jams became a proto-punk classic, and its high-energy title track became the band's signature song. They followed it with 1971's Back in the U.S.A. and 1972's High Time.

Listen to MC5's 'Kick Out the Jams'

Due to their vocal political beliefs, MC5 faced government harassment and radio backlash over the course of their career. As a result, they split by 1972. Kramer later ran into legal trouble when he sold drugs to undercover federal agents, resulting in a four-year prison sentence.

Following his release from jail in 1979, Kramer returned to music, playing with Was (Not Was) and Gang War, among others. He also found work as a session guitarist and producer for other acts. Throughout the '80s and '90s, he also had a side career in woodworking. In the '90s, Kramer launched a solo career, which yielded five studio albums.

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In 2018, Kramer returned to the road with an all-star lineup of musicians to celebrate 50 years of Kick Out the Jams, playing with Soundgarden's Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron, Fugazi's Brendan Canty and King's X's Dug Pinnick, among others.

In 2022, Kramer spoke of plans to record a new MC5 album. He even went so far as teasing a new song called "Heavy Lifting" that featured a guest turn from Tom Morello.

Though nominated multiple times, MC5 have yet to enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but they continue to influence musicians across generations.


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Gallery Credit: Loudwire Staff

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