MC5 guitarist and co-founder Wayne Kramer has died at the age of 75 after battling pancreatic cancer.
His passing was announced on his Instagram page last night (February 2) with the words: “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, an executive director of the artist’s nonprofit Jail Guitar Doors, [via Billboard].
“Brother Wayne Kramer R.I.P.” wrote Primal Scream in a lengthy post on their Instagram page. “We are sad to hear about the passing of Wayne Kramer guitarist with the MC5. @mc5alive being one of our favourite bands ever.”
They went on to recall how they once played a show with Kramer and the band at Meltdown in 2007.
The band added: “We’ll never forget walking into @alaska_studios practice room in Waterloo to be welcomed by a smiling brother Wayne and his 5 comrades Michael & Dennis. They were all so gracious to us, Wayne especially, a soft spoken gentle guy. A dream come true to play with them. Their music will live forever.”
Slash also posted a heartfelt tribute to Kramer with the Guns N’ Roses guitarist writing: “My life was forever changed for the better when I met this man. & I’m going to miss him immeasurably. The embodiment of all things Rock n Roll. & a really fucking great human being. RIP Wayne, you will live on in our hearts.”
My life was forever changed for the better when I met this man. & I’m going to miss him immeasurably. The embodiment of all things Rock n Roll. & a really fucking great human being. RIP Wayne, you will live on in our hearts. #WayneKramer #MC5 #JailGuitarDoors #RocknRoll #Detroit…
— Slash (@Slash) February 3, 2024
Tom Morello, who worked with Kramer on MC5’s forthcoming album ‘Heavy Lifting’, also spoke about the first day he teamed up with the guitarist on the day Kramer and Billy Bragg‘s charity Jail Guitar Doors was formed.
He added: “Wayne Kramer & I at Sing Sing Prison on the day@JailGuitarDoors was born. Wayne embodied a combination of wisdom & compassion that was beyond inspiring. Rest in peace my dear brother.”
Wayne Kramer & I at Sing Sing Prison on the day @JailGuitarDoors was born. Wayne embodied a combination of wisdom & compassion that was beyond inspiring. Rest in peace my dear brother. pic.twitter.com/dWqE7943LQ
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) February 3, 2024
Bragg also paid his respects describing Kramer as “a revolutionary artist who walked it like he talked it” while The Cure‘s Lol Tolhurst also honoured the late guitarist.
Wayne Kramer was a revolutionary artist who walked it like he talked it. His own incarceration gave him an instant bond with the prisoners he helped through his leadership of Jail Guitar Doors USA. My thoughts are with Margaret and their son Francis https://t.co/RRh5IadrFM
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) February 3, 2024
RIP Wayne Kramer: When I was 12 or 13 I bought the Age of Atlantic compilation . The MC5 were on there and as I investigated further I came to get the idea about what music could do from them . It’s still there in my mind. Thank you .
— Lol Tolhurst (@LolTolhurst) February 3, 2024
Kramer formed MC5 in 1963 with fellow guitarist Fred Smith before frontman Rob Tyner and bassist Michael Davis joined the band.
The band quickly built a live reputation playing on bills with the likes of Cream, and were signed to Elektra in 1968.
Their debut album, ‘Kick Out The Jams’, was released the following year, a live recording from Detroit’s Grande Ballroom where the band had made their name.
They went on to release two more albums – ‘Back In The USA’ and ‘High Time’ – before they eventually split in 1972.
Kramer went on to form a solo career in the 1990s releasing his debut ‘The Hard Stuff’ in 1995.
Kramer later launched the nonprofit Jail Guitar Doors with his wife and manager, Margaret Saadi Kramer, and Billy Bragg in the mid-2000s.
The organisation is dedicated to “providing musical instruments and mentorship to help rehabilitate individuals experiencing incarceration through the transformative power of music.”
In 2018, Kramer teamed up with a host of guest artists for a tour to mark MC5’s 50th anniversary of ‘Kick Out The Jams’.
In 2022 he also said he was working on a new MC5 album which is yet to be released.