Thursday, October 11, 2018

DENNIS THOMPSON: HUDSON'S AND LINCOLN PARK 1961

Having Fun: Dennis and Brother Pete on Keyboards

I am the prototype baby boomer. Right down to the date I was born. 9/7/48. Just a couple of years late of being the baby boomer poster boy. But I was close. Mighty close. My birth was also a happy accident, and a blessing I think (hope)? entered this world ten years after my brother Pete and sister Donna.

Let’s move forward in time to 1961, when I was 13 years old. What a time. America was on a roll and everyone had 2 cars in the garage and a chicken in every pot. There was plenty of factory/manufacturing work for all the men returning from overseas after winning the big one, WWII. America was bustling and growing exponentially.

Cookie cutter suburbs popped up like flowers in the spring. It was boom time for the USA. The creation of the true middle class began after this war and Americans never had it better.

Not like the USA now. Not even close! Even the policemen were friendly, or so it seemed. We would have a very, very different attitude on police a few years down the line though, right?

Back to 1961 Lincoln Park and I was in 8th grade then. I had a crush on a gal name of Frances Burns. Would ride my bike past her house as much as ten times a day. Talk about the original stalker! (LOL)

Well to Frances I was invisible. She was into the football players so I joined the football team and played right side linebacker on defense. We played this bigger team from a school called Divine Child. They were all twice our size. Their fullback creamed me, ruining my right knee till this day. Ouch!

Senior Picture 1966

Later on in high school now as the drummer of the MC5, Frances warmed up to me, but I was on my way then and she had her chance. You snooze you lose!
If ever I was a normal person these were the days. I played baseball in the Babe Ruth league, became an all-star 2 years in a row. We used to play every day in the summer. Even played against Fred Smith before we joined forces in the MC5, though we didn’t know each other yet.

My gang of neighborhood guys used to have BB gun fights with trash can lids as shields, wore football helmets, and sunglasses as armor. What a riot! Nobody lost an eye.

My grandparents owned a small farm in, of all places, Hicksville Ohio. Nyuk, nyuk. Spent 2-3 weeks every summer there. VoilĂ ! I morphed into Farmer Dennis. Drove the tractor disking the fields prepping for the planting of corn and soy beans.

Dad and Dennis

My family had moved from Detroit City proper in ’52 when I was 4 years young. My little slice of heaven was to be in the tiny downriver suburb of Lincoln Park just south of Detroit. I was to live there until I was 18.

“Novena Fight Night” happened weekly when mom went to church on Tuesday nights for an hour. Pete would get on his knees and we went wild wrestling and knocking everything over.

My older sister Donna, was always afraid we would break the huge picture window in the living room and never failed to squeal on us. Of course we put everything back in it’s place before mother came home. What a ball.

There were no shopping malls yet. There was the big multi-story Hudson’s downtown which I loved to go to with my mom. It is a sore topic to me to this day today concerning John Sinclair's decision to run that full page ad screaming F**K Hudsons! when they would not stock our record. Would'nt negotiation been a better tactic?

But that is the dichotomy of The MC5 - John Sinclair and his White Panther Party. 

Would the MC5 have been more successful in the main stream without Sinclair's pot politics or just been another band from Detroit? You tell me. To me it was about making music not legalizing pot or overthrowing the government. and NO the MC5 were NOT communist! We were American!


Strange how things work… My father worked two jobs. Dinner was at 4:30pm sharp every day. He would woof down his dinner after working 8 hours at a factory then zip to his next job at another machine shop, then put in four more hours.

He worked those two jobs to send his three children to college. I was an honor student andmy father's dream was to see me graduate as an engineer from Wayne State University.

But I had the bug for playing music at weddings with Pete at age 13.
My parents were disappointed that I chose the band over school but they supported my decision.

Who would know what fate had in store for me. If my parents ever thought I would wind up on a high performance search and destroy team as the MC5, I think my drums might have magically disappeared one night.

Thank God no one had a clue. Hell, not even yours truly. This post was fun. I hope you liked it, as I wish to give you a little more insight into the life and times of a rebel in his earlier years. Cheers everyone, MGT

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

EXISTENTIALISM AND IT'S IMPACT ON SOCIETY


Existentialism – Impact on Society

Existentialistic ideas came out of a time in society when there was a deep sense of despair following the Great Depression and World War II. There was a spirit of optimism in society that was destroyed by World War I and its mid-century calamities. This despair has been articulated by existentialist philosophers well into the 1970s and continues on to this day as a popular way of thinking and reasoning (with the freedom to choose one’s preferred moral belief system and lifestyle).


An existentialist could either be a religious moralist, agnostic relativist, or an amoral atheist. Kierkegaard, a religious philosopher, Nietzsche, an anti-Christian, Sartre, an atheist, and Camus an atheist, are credited for their works and writings about existentialism. Sartre is noted for bringing the most international attention to existentialism in the 20th century.


Each basically agrees that human life is in no way complete and fully satisfying because of suffering and losses that occur when considering the lack of perfection, power, and control one has over their life. Even though they do agree that life is not optimally satisfying, it nonetheless has meaning. Existentialism is the search and journey for true self and true personal meaning in life.

Most importantly, it is the arbitrary act that existentialism finds most objectionable-that is, when someone or society tries to impose or demand that their beliefs, values, or rules be faithfully accepted and obeyed.


Existentialists believe this destroys individualism and makes a person become whatever the people in power desire thus they are dehumanized and reduced to being an object.

Existentialism then stresses that a person's judgment is the determining factor for what is to be believed rather than by arbitrary religious or secular world values. PERIOD!

MGT

Saturday, October 6, 2018

ON THE ROAD: THE MC5 MOBILE!


This story is disgusting. I mean really disgusting but in a funny sorta way… But I gotta pass this on. We were the Five right? Gods in our own delinquent minds, right? We do what we want, when we want.

When on stage we used ultra-max adrenalin. Took no prisoners. High energy as if on steroids. Damn straight! We were angelic and straight-laced, right?


GONG--WRONG!!!

We were just as wild offstage…

After the poor fans having to read those 2 books out there, and the MC1 tribute tour and blah, blah,blah and all that.. why not have some FUN for a change? Know what I mean? I’ll try and make you laugh. We need to laugh, especially in these turbulant times. So with laughter in mind...

Back in the MC5's heyday. It was prime time for the bad boys of Detroit rock to really shake it down, but first a back story…


This is a yin yang world right?

For a bunch of guys self trained in maximum intensity, smash you in the face, special forces power, and, absolutely known for ringing out that last drop of sweat on the stage, here is a peek behind the scenes. The B side posts just for you wonderful friends and fans out there. I wanna laugh. Et tu?


If you think we were angels or something, better stop reading right here.

We were touring down south in an ugly brown rented Pontiac station wagon. We were all drinking uncles Jack and Jim with coke and other available party favors. We had maybe 5 or 6 gigs in the deep south of the USA..

Steve the “Hawk” Harnadek our beloved road manager and a great friend drove us around most of the time. (RIP)

We got so stupid, blasted, drunk, and insane that each and everyone of us power barfed out the windows of this poor Pontiac at different times while motoring from gig to gig. From the front door to the entire back of the wagon it was really disgusting.

You had to be there...We never washed that wagon. Yup, ballsy ingrates from Detroit. We ruled! It was completely covered in PUKE from side to side and stem to stern.

You see we always wanted to be the tip of the spear. Gladiators! Ooops… We planted the Vomitus Flag high! So  F*****g DISGUSTING!! The kicker here is that Steve was the only man that did not adorn the vehicle. Poor guy.


At the end of the tour we told Steve that he had to take that infested, smelly, dried up and caked wagon back to the rental dealer, he had a coronary.

“Why me he screamed!” “Because it’s your job!” “No f*****g way!!!” “Yeah, way.” “How on earth do I get this crap off?” “ Don’t, take it in as is, I shouted back!”

“Are you nuts? Really?”

“Yeah, I said, tell them who we really are. Never know, if somebody knows about us, they just might dig it!” hahaha “Really Steve why not, chimes Fred, Rob and Mike?”

“It will be a first for them and they could tell all their friends!” Steve gets it, we all roar with laughter.

The B side of the Five. Sheesh!

Not to stupid eh?

(I should tell you we often took the piss out of Steve. He always wound up playing along.) Anyway, we all laughed and cracked wise about this for days to come.

(This story is tame. I’m just getting started folks.)

Stay tuned for more tales from the B side of the gallant MC5.

Heh, heh……….

Excelsior

MGT

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

DENNIS MACHINEGUN THOMPSON: THE MUSIC LIVES ON FOREVER


Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous. Yehudi Menuhin

Do you think my home music collection might be slightly eclectic? Really? I thought so.

Music has been so important to me. The value we place on the sounds of music defines our character. Music is intended to entertain, soothe, rabble rouse, spread loving feelings, and to connect to your vast body of emotions and at times your intellectual thought/emotional mood or state of mind.  Music amplifies your own feelings.


MUSIC: Mainly it is about Empathy:

1. Understanding of another's feelings: the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties

2. Attribution of feelings to an object: the transfer of somebody's own feelings and emotions to an object such as a painting We live in some hellacious times don’t we? We need some order in the midst of all this chaos. Music can provide this order for you.

3. You can use music to lift you right up and out of the doldrums, or some music can put you to sleep.

4. Why does everyone have such differing tastes for various musical styles? Well, that depends on what turns on the pheromones in your brain.

It also depends on the quantity of exposure to a particular song or a particular music genre. That means your environment. Your immediate circle of friends and family can influence your musical bent. It is also your own magnetic draw to a certain emotion or lyric.

5. Did you ever stop to think why you like what you like? If I were to interview you and ask what are your three favorite songs and why, could you answer me without a little time to pause and think?

Great video and so much fun...click on it...



When I first heard “My Generation” by The Who, I was working at a gas station a bit north of downtown Detroit. I was driving home listening to the radio when this song came on. I had to pull the car on to the shoulder of the freeway, as I was mesmerized and slack-jawed and awestruck. Who (haha) in the hell were these guys? Wow!

When their insane drummer Keith Moon explodes in the last two verses I went nuts. I slapped the steering wheel in time and screamed, shouted and whoo-hooed like a madman. A song from heaven was just sent to me personally.

That is the key. That song was written just for me in my mind. The future of drumming in rock had just arrived. No more “Just play the pocket" crap ever again for me. I was reborn that night. The sky was now the limit.


That is how good music should work for you too. A song that connects so well, that you wish to personally own it. The song is an extension of you, your feelings, and your entire persona. You get it!


When I first heard the Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced LP  Just smoked some great Thai Stick and I got it immediately. This band was from another planet. My home planet, wherever that is—I forget.

Jumped around playing air guitar with a broomstick for 5 hours. Listening to every tune over and over and over again. The rest of the guys got quite a kick out of my broom performance because when they walked in on me I just kept playin’ that broom. Whoo-hoo!



When I first heard the song “Afro Blue” and the album, “Meditations” by the John Coltrane Quartet, I lost it again. These f**kers were downright dangerous! I also immediately realized that my drumming was woefully inadequate compared to this master drummer by the name of Elvin Jones. I have studied him all my life. The same for Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell.

It became time for me to hit the woodshed for the rest of my life.

When I was a young tot I heard “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and I fell in love with that tune. I fell in love with “Quarter to Three”, by Gary U.S. Bonds. The same for the Contours. “Do You Love Me?” The same for the Beatles “She Loves You” and the Stones’ “Satisfaction.”



The point of all this is why my personal music library is all over the map. A good song is a good song and will stand the test of time no matter the artist.

The music lives on forever. 

Love what you love and take no prisoners. What does it for you may not do it for the next person. So what? Be yourself, always. You are as unique as each snow flake in a snowstorm. I like a lot of different music and that’s the way it is.

Pure and simple. MGT 

MC5 AND SOCIAL CHANGE: THE BEST BOOK WRITTEN ON THE BAND SO FAR!

Leni Sinclair Photo

There have been many books (some are so negative it leaves the reader clinically depressed and wishing they could rewind and erase...) written about the MC5, but in particular I’d like to tell you a little about “MC5 and Social Change” by Dr. Mathew J. Bartkowiak, a former professor at Michigan State University.

Matt is a very good friend of mine and we have worked together twice at MSU. A while back I lectured to his class on American Studies.

In his book MC5 AND SOCIAL CHANGE, Matt describes “The MC5 allows this dichotomy of subversion and profit to be better understood.” He goes on to say that, “ Useable rebellion” refers to the inherent, rebellious nature of rock that has allowed producers and consumers to partake in questioning social mores and ideas in a safe spot secured by the price of a concert ticket or CD.”

Dr. Mathew J. Bartkowiak

One of the better points he makes—“The MC5 allows this dichotomy of subversion and profit to be better understood. The MC5 tested where these borders begin and end.” Here, here Matt!

Fred Sonic Smith

If you are at all interested in a very keen insight into how we affected the media and their take on radicalism, the youth culture and the Republic’s true potential energy, you must read his book. Because the public got kinetic change followed. The war ended. Thank God. Once again, kudos' to you Matt and thanks again..Dennis

You can purchase Dr. Mathew J. Bartkowiak's book MC5 and Social Change Here



The MC5's 1969 live album Kick Out the Jams was a new measure of the relationship between music and cultural and political change. As the "house band" and central organizing force for the White Panther Party, which advocated an end to capitalism and supported the Black Panther Party's initiatives and aims, the MC5 formalized the threat, promise, and parity of music within larger societal spheres.

Using the band's career as a case study in evaluating the relationship between rock music and social change, this book examines how the inherent rebelliousness of rock afforded both media producers and consumers a safe space in which to question social mores and ideas.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

MACHINEGUN THOMPSON: THE WAR AGAINST THE JIVE!


I wrote Rock n Roll Soldiers for the New Order in 1974. After seven long months of rehearsing five hours a day, five days a week, Emotionally depleted and highly depressed we "soldiered" on. I felt like I was in the f**king Army!


We were young and we could handle anything...

Thanks to John Riley, our manager/investor, we were able to keep creating the music, but we were penniless, lean, mean, and hungry. Tough for us to see all the sports cars and rich people going by on the Strip! While we are eating boot soup.. I sold my 1967 Corvette Stingray to go out there!

ROCK AND ROLL SOLDIERS

(Words and music by Dennis Thompson)

(Copyright Wotre Music 1975)

Verse 1

Like men possessed maniacs insane

We struggle and fight

Some die

We sold our souls

So long ago

To keep rock and roll alive

Giving everything we got

And a whole lot more

Lo the battle is waged

Taking all the help

We can get anytime

To fill another page

Chorus

‘Cause we are the rock and roll soldiers

Rock and roll will keep you alive

We’d never give in

It would be a sin

In the war against the jive.

In the war against the jive

In the war against the jive

Verse 2

A million miles of barbed wire

To rip and tear at our grace

We played the game for buyers

With six strings as our mace

Plagued by apathy and protocol

Maneuvering to keep control

Feeding upon the fire

Like a bandit lusts for gold

(Repeat Chorus)

(Guitar solo)

(Drum cadence with spoken word overlay)

We are the rock and roll soldiers

Rock and roll will keep you alive

We’d never give in

It would be a sin

In the war against the JIVE

( Repeat Chorus and out)



One afternoon, I was personally feeling pretty damn sorry for myself (no record contract yet) over the impoverished life we were committed to. Not even playing any gigs!


Had to get out of my one man pity-party. So went and got my notebook and began to write how I felt at that moment in time.




The words came easily as did the tears. Together they became this song.
Complete. I borrowed the chord structure from "Summer Cannibals" a previous tune from Fred Smith and then wrote the lyrics.


Voila! Ron Asheton, Jimmy Recca (one of my favorite bass players), and lead singer Dave Gilbert nailed it. (This just prior to Ray Gunn joining the group.)
Gray Cloud with a silver lining? You bet! Next day I called Ray Gunn and asked him to join the band. The rest, as they say, is r n r history.

(Read post on The New Order) Moral of the story? Don’t ever give up on yourself and your true friends!

Excelsior! MGT

READ MORE ABOUT THE NEW ORDER ON MACHINEGUN'S PAGE

THE NEW ORDER REVIEW

THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW ORDER

NEW ORDER PART 2

NEW ORDER PART 3

NEW ORDER PART 4

43 MC5 PHOTOS FROM THE ARCHIVES
































 















Robin Summers (rip)

58 more photos from the Grande
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