Wayne Kramer, one of contemporary hard rock’s most influential guitarists, passed away in hsiopital in Los Angeles on Friday, following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

The former MC5, MC5-DKT, Gang War, solo band and soundtrack artist was on the verge of releasing a new album under the MC5 name.

The influence of Wayne Kramer and the MC5 on bands like The Damned, Radio Birdman, Rage Against the Machine, Ramones, New York Dolls and scores of others can’t be underestimated.

After just three albums, the MC5’s anti-establishment attitude became a template for so many bands that followed in the ‘70s.  Following an acrimonious break-up in 1972, Kramer spent years on the fringes of rock and roll, doing  time in jail and dealing with alcoholism and drug addiction before forging a solo career on the Epitaph label in the ‘90s.

Australian audiences got the chance to see "Brother Wayne" and a crack solo band as support to Radio Birdman on their reunion tour in 1996. He returned in 2004 as a member of MC5-DKT, a part reformation of the Five with bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson.

His last visit was in 2018 as support to Alice Cooper with a band he dubbed MC50, an all-star line-up with members of Soundgarden and Fugazi that convened to mark the fifth decade of the Five.  

In rcent years, Kramer was heavily invovled in charity work, starting the US version of Jail Guitar Doors which uses guitars and music to rehabilitate jail prisoners. 

Dennis Thompson is now the sole surviving member of the MC5.

The Five were short-listed six times on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot, finally being nominated for enshrinement in 2022 but (disgracefully) did not make the final cut.

Kramer is survived by his wife, Margaret Saadi Kramer, their son Francis Kramer, and a sister, Kat Kambes

You can read our 1999 Ken Shimamoto interview with Wayne Kramer here.