Punk rock legend and left-wing activist Wayne Kramer dies at 75

 February 6, 2024

Fans of punk music were devastated to learn that legendary artist Wayne Kramer passed away at the age of 75. 

According to People magazine, a statement regarding Kramer's death was put up on Instagram by Jail Guitar Doors USA, a non-profit group that he created to provide prisoners with musical instruments and mentorship.

Helped found band in 1965

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

It went on to say that those who wished to honor the musician's legacy could do so by making a donation to the organization.

People noted that Kramer was born as Wayne Kambes in Detroit where he co-founded what began as a cover band alongside rhythm guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, drummer Dennis Thompson, and vocalist Rob Tyner in 1965.

However, the group would later become known as the Motor City Five, or MC5 for short, and took on John Sinclair as their manager.

Sinclair was a far-left activist who created the White Panther Party, a radical group with ties to the violent Black Panther Party.

Political activism was a major part of Kramer's career

"Young people in general felt unified in resisting the efforts of the older generation," Kramer said of the era during a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone.

"We thought they were messing it up and it was our duty as patriots to try and straighten this business out and the MC5, we took it personally, in as much as this is my neighborhood," the musician recalled.

"These are my neighbors. This is my family and we’re all on the receiving end of a blunt stick coming down on our heads," Kramer insisted.

Kramer was remembered fondly in a social media post by singer Tom Morello of the leftist bank Rage Against the Machine.

Fellow musicians pay tribute

"Brother Wayne Kramer was the best man I’ve ever known," Morello said of Kramer. "He possessed a one of a kind mixture of deep wisdom [and] profound compassion, beautiful empathy and tenacious conviction."

Morello went on to speak of having "played with Wayne in prisons and watched him transform lives, he was just unbelievable," adding, "Wayne had a soft heart but was also Detroit tough as nails."

Another tribute was posted by the rock band Cheap Trick, which said, "We’ll miss you Brother Wayne, thank you for your friendship over the years."

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