The third time may be the charm for the MC5 with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which included the legendary Detroit-bred rock band on their list of 19 nominees on Thursday (Oct. 5). But guitarist Wayne Kramer isn’t worrying too much about it.
“Y’know, I actually hadn’t thought about it since this time 365 days ago,” Kramer — who along with drummer Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson is the only remaining living member of the notoriously revolution-minded 60s Detroit group — tells Billboard. The MC5 was nominated in 2003 and last year, and has long been considered one of the great snubs in the Rock Hall’s induction history.
Leading the first-time nominees on this years list are Rage Against the Machine, Eurythmics, Bon Jovi, Radiohead and Judas Priest, as well as Dire Straits, Kate Bush, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Returning names include The Cars, Depeche Mode, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, The Meters, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Link Wray and The Zombies, as well as Kramer’s band.
“It’s just so awkward because it seems as if the people that kicked the MC5 out of the music business are some of the same people that run the Rock Hall,” Kramer says. “Maybe there’s been a turnover and there’s a new generation that sees the significance of what me and my friends did a long time ago, I don’t know.” And for that reason Kramer isn’t allowing himself to think much about the prospects of an actual induction for the band.
“I’ve had my fair share of disappointments in my fine, fine career as an artist,” he explains, “so I have to protect myself against unnecessary pain. I deal with what’s real and what’s happening and I try not to put any energy into woulda coulda shoulda. Plus, I don’t live in yesterday; I have my hands full with what I’m doing today. I never close the door on the past, but I don’t live in the past.”
The MC5 are included alongside such contemporaries as the J. Geils Band and the Zombies, as well their mutual predecessor Link Wray and politically minded protégés Rage Against The Machine. The group released three studio albums — including the seminal Kick Out The Jams — between 1969-71. The group’s singer Rob Tyler died in 1993, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith passed away in 1994 and bassist Michael Davis died in 2012. Kramer says that the absence of his comrades would make an induction “bittersweet,” but he and Thompson will be happy to represent them that night.
“I talk to Dennis fairly regularly. We’re still close,” say Kramer, who’s currently working on new music and operates Jail Guitar Doors, an initiative to use music as a form of rehabilitation in correctional facilities that currently has instruments in 105 U.S. prisons. “I’m sure it would be very important to both of us. It wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Inductees for the Rock Hall class of 2018 will be announced in December, with the ceremony taking place April 14 at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland and filmed by HBO for subsequent broadcast.