This week’s episode is dedicated to the memory of legendary guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and film and television composer Wayne Kramer, who passed away recently.
Wayne was far more influential than many realize as his band MC5 basically invented punk rock a full decade before it even emerged as a genre. The band and its albums became a model for punk bands on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, The Clash even wrote not one, but two songs about him! A formidable player, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Wayne as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
He also collaborated with a who’s who of rock’s most elite artists over the years, and his scoring work can be heard on films like Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, the HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down, ESPN’s 5-4-3-2-1, In My Own Words, and Under The Lights, and even for the “Unlabeled” Jim Beam commercial.
Musical accolades are well and good, but I think what Wayne was most proud of was the fact that he was able to overcome his personal trials with drugs and jail time. He emerged from this darkness transformed, and then went on to save countless lives through his tireless acts of service.
He was extremely passionate about his work with Jail Guitar Doors, a program that provides guitars and music lessons for inmates at more than 50 penal institutions throughout the United States. Through the years, he regularly played concerts with an all-star band at prisons around the country.
During this interview from January 6th, 2022, we talked about why musicians from Detroit have a special edge to them, why the MC5 was banned from radio, how going to prison saved his life, getting into film scoring, and much more.
This is a replay of an interview that I did with Wayne via Zoom from his studio in Los Angeles.