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MC5 gets fourth nomination for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Despite three previous swings at induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the MC5 has not struck out yet.
The iconic and influential hard rock group from Lincoln Park has been nominated for the Rock Hall's class of 2020, its fourth time on the ballot following appearances in 2003, 2017 and 2018. Guitarist Wayne Kramer is still hoping to connect with voters at some point, and hopefully this time.
"I'm basically just an observe in the process at this point," Kramer 71, says by phone from Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and their young son. "I'm just about out of keen observations and insights and broad philosophical positions. I don't know what to make of it all. I guess we wait and see. Again."
The MC5 is joined on this year's ballot by Pat Benatar, the Dave Matthews Band, Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Judas PRiest, Kraftwerk, Motorhead, Nine Inch Nails, the Notorious B.I.G., Rufus featurign Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, T. Rex and Thin Lizzy. Seattle rockers Soundgarden, whose guitarist Kim Thayil is part of Kramer's all-star current band MC50, is also on the ballot.
Ballots will be mailed to music industry professionals, while the public vote begins Tuesday, Oct. 15 and runs through Jan. 10 via rockhall.com or the museum in Cleveland. The class of 2020 will be announced shortly after that, with the ceremony on May 2 at Cleveland's Public Auditorium and broadcast live on HBO.
"My feelings about it don't change," Kramer says. "I've always been suspect about how do you quantify the influence of an artist? It's not like sports where you hit so many home runs and it's a number, and that number is more than everybody else's number.
"Something like music is so subjective. There's no kind of yardstick to measure what we call great rock band. It's not record sales, necessarily, or songs on the radio, necessarily. It's some mash-up of all that."
Nevertheless, Kramer -- who recently toured the U.K. with the MC50 after a Labor Day weekend performance at Detroit's Saint Andrew's Hall -- remains convinced that the MC5 merits induction into the Rock Hall.
"It seems as though all the bands that came after the MC5, or at least a great many of those bands, acknowledge the influence that the MC5 had," says Kramer, who published a memoir, "The Hard Stuff," during the spring of 2018. "The MC5 exists on a level that most modern rock fans are unaware of. It's only the real hardcore fans, the people that take rock seriously and do their homework who understand the influence of the MC5 on rock as we know it."
An MC5 induction is also endorse by ballot "competitor" Thayil. "Of course -- if the Stooges are in there, yeah, the MC5 should be in there, of course," the guitarist says. "But I'm a little partial, since it's my favorite band ever."
Kramer says he and drummer Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson, the only other living member of the MC5 have "never talked about the Rock Hall or being admitted or anything like that. We've talked in the recent past, and we're on good terms at the moment. Mostly we talk about our health -- or lack of health." Kramer himself battled off saliva gland cancer earlier in the year and says that he "feels great" since finishing treatments.
Kramer is staying busy. He's currently writing and recording with Alice Cooper, both in Los Angeles and Detroit, for the latter's new studio album due out next year. The sessions already yielded Cooper's "Breadcrumbs" EP with a cover of the MC5's "Sister Anne," and the troupe is planning to record more covers as well as originals.
"We're making a Detroit record," Kramer says. "We're really zeroing in on the influences of the MC5 and of Motown and of Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger and all the good stuff that has come out of our beloved, industrial city is gonna be on this record. It's a really fun process."
Meanwhile, there may be new music from the MC50 as well. "I'm in agreement with all the cats in the band. They all want to see what we can do in a studio," he says. "I've got an idea about how to give it a framework -- maybe you could call it a concept album. I've got an idea in mind. We're talking about it more and we're trying to see what the business side of the equation looks like."
The MC50 will also be releasing a live album it recorded last October at Third Man Records Cass Corridor, but no date has been announced yet.
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