Grit, Noise, and Revolution
The Birth of Detroit Rock 'n' Roll
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Title Page and Copyright
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On April 7, 1969, over sixteen thousand fans turned out at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium for a ten-hour rock concert event called the Detroit Pop Festival. Although there were no “national” acts on the bill, kids were lining up to see Motor City stalwarts such as the MC5, the Stooges...
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I would like to express my appreciation to my wife Laura and to Chris Hebert at the University of Michigan Press for their assistance in editing. I would also like to thank my daughter Erin for her support and assistance with computer troubleshooting. Thanks also to Strother Bullins for his technical...
1. Boogie and the Beat
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Before there was rock or R & B, there were blues. In Detroit the blues were personi‹ed in the music of John Lee Hooker, an artist whose “electrified sound” would in›uence future generations of rock and R & B musicians. He arrived in Detroit...
2. Fame and Fortune
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Of all the early Detroit groups, the Diablos, featuring Nolan Strong, may have been the most revered. Their entire recording career was spent with struggling, Detroit-based Fortune Records, owned by Jack and Dorothy Brown. Jack was a former accountant, and Dorothy, who usually went by the name Devora, was a pianist...
3. Freewheelin’ in the Motor City
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Detroit’s rock music scene in the middle to late 1950s was in its infancy, spread out among a handful of local clubs; small recording studios; record, distribution, and management companies; and colorful radio, TV, and promotion personalities. Radio deejays became the first real rock stars, repackaging rhythm and blues as rock ’...
4. Motown and Other Sounds
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In the spring of 1960 it seemed like everyone was turning up the radio to hear the pounding piano riffs that kicked off a huge R & B hit called “Money (That’s What I Want).” Recorded by Barrett Strong, it was released locally on Tamla Records, a new Detroit label founded by...
5. The Village Is on Fire
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In the spring of 1964, Billy Lee and the Rivieras, a white rock band, were bringing down the house amid a roster of Detroit R & B talent on stage at the Village. Realtor brothers Gabe and Leo Glantz managed the club, and Gabe booked the talent.1 Located at 3929 Woodward Avenue...
6. On to the Hideout
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The year 1964 was a time of transition. The emergence of the Beatles and other new British groups gave a de‹nite feeling that a lingering era was beginning to pass. Besides the big dances at Notre Dame High School and Walled Lake Casino, still open prior to being destroyed in a...
7. So You Wanna Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star?
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Venues similar to the popular Hideout were soon popping up all over the Detroit metropolitan area. The Chatterbox, with locations in Warren and Allen Park; the Hullabaloo clubs in Dearborn and Roseville; the Pumpkin...
8. A Whole Lotta Soul, a Whole Lotta Funk
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As the rock music scene continued to mature, R & B had been evolving into what audiences were now referring to as “soul music.” Many critics felt that records being produced by Stax Records in Memphis by artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Sam and Dave were truer to the gospel-inspired...
9. Birth of the Noise
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Russ Gibb seemed an unlikely rock ’n’ roll hero in the fall of 1966. Already in his midthirties with short hair and glasses, he was employed as an English teacher at Allen Park Junior High School North. A closer look, though, revealed a man who liked to ride motorcycles, take chances, and...
10. A Mythical Figure
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John Alexander Sinclair, who had recommended the MC5 to Russ Gibb, was a Renaissance man of sorts whose music column in the Fifth Estate represented just one of many facets of his involvement in Detroit’s arts community. He was born in Davison, Michigan, on October 2, 1941, the son of a career employee at Flint’s...
11. Summer in the City
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On Sunday afternoon, July 23, 1967, two teenagers (one of whom was this book’s author) were on their way back home to suburban Royal Oak, after a day of joyriding to downtown Detroit. Heading north on Woodward Avenue, they spotted several police and fire vehicles with sirens wailing..
12. Hippies and Head Shops
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To experience the “hippie scene” in Detroit in 1967, one needed only to visit Plum Street, in the Elton Park neighborhood, located between Michigan Avenue and the Lodge and Fisher Freeways downtown. The media was likening Plum Street to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, which...
13. Hits and Misses
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In 1967, while the MC5 toiled away at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit-area rock bands produced a bumper crop of hits. The Underdogs were now performing with a four-man lineup after Steve Perrin and Jack Louisell left to attend college. According to lead guitarist Tony Roumell, the band stopped playing regularly at the Hideout...
14. Something in the Air
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Jeep Holland’s Ann Arbor–based operation continued to grow during 1967, as the Scot Richard Case, the Thyme, and the Apostles all signed contracts with his A-Square Management. The company was now also operating as a booking agency for Michigan rock bands and had...
15. Seger on the Rise
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Following the demise of Cameo-Parkway Records in September 1967, Bob Seger watched helplessly as his “breakout” hit, “Heavy Music,” lost momentum and fell off the national charts. His manager, Punch Andrews, at first thought of trying to place him with Motown, where the Underdogs...
16. A Night at the Grande
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As 1968 began to unfold, the Grande Ballroom was drawing steady crowds every weekend. The talent on stage consisted mainly of Detroit-based bands, such as the MC5, Scott Richard Case, the Rationals, Thyme, Jagged Edge and the Apostles. But by late 1967, Russ Gibb was also ‹nancially...
17. Enter the Stooges
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On March 3, 1968, a new group calling themselves the Psychedelic Stooges made their debut at the Grande Ballroom. Lead singer Jim Osterberg fronted the loud, raw, almost primitive-sounding rock band. The other members included Ron Asheton on guitar, his brother Scott on drums...
18. On the Front Lines with the MC5
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By late May 1968, the Trans-Love commune had been firebombed twice, and hassles with the Detroit police had escalated following a new curfew imposed following the assassination of Martin Luther King. As a result, John Sinclair moved the entire Trans-Love Energies operation to Ann Arbor, settling into two big Victorian-style houses...
19. Total Assault: Kickin’ Out the Jams
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The MC5 were set to perform at the Oakland Pop Festival, at the Baldwin Pavilion at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, on September 1 when they received a tip: police were waiting there to arrest them on a year-old warrant issued after they had created a wild scene at...
20. Up against the Wall and Beyond
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Wayne Kramer was asleep when the rough mixes of the Grande Ballroom concert arrived at the Hill Street house in Ann Arbor. John Sinclair had quickly threaded the tape onto their home deck and was playing it back at a high volume. “As I was waking up and listening to the music, I realized...
21. The Detroit Pop Festival
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Two popular Michigan bands were going through signi‹cant changes at the start of 1969. Both were managed by Jeep Holland, and were part of his A-Square management, record, and booking business. Although the Rationals had enjoyed a local hit in the early part of 1968, it had been a one-off on Capitol, arranged by Holland through an independent...
22. Voices of the Counterculture [Image Plates]
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Creem was the brainchild of Tony Reay, a former musician from England, who was working as a clerk at a head shop called Mixed Media in the spring of 1969. The store was owned by a music enthusiast named Barry Kramer. Like Kramer, Reay was caught up in the artsy community happenings around the Wayne...
23. I Wanna Be Your Dog
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At the time Elektra Records cut the MC5 loose in April 1969, the label had yet to get the Stooges into the recording studio. Jac Holtzman, feeling that the band “could barely play their instruments,” wondered how he was going to “get them on record.”1 Finally, in mid-May, John Cale...
24. “Uncle Russ”
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In the fall of 1969, WABX was still the most popular of the three FM stations programming “progressive rock” in the Motor City.1 But WKNR-FM received a big boost in August when Dan Carlisle joined the station, going on the air in the afternoon after jumping ship from WABX. Carlisle...
25. First Train out of Town
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The Eastown Theatre was closing out 1969 with a New Year’s Eve appearance by the new power trio known as Grand Funk Railroad. The group had risen from the ashes of the Fabulous Pack, the Flint-based band that had carried on following the breakup of Terry Knight and the Pack. Grand Funk...
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In the GM Studios on Nine Mile Road in East Detroit, Jon Landau was feeling his way through the sessions for the MC5’s second album, his first shot as a rock producer. The band seemed more than pleased to have him at the helm. Wayne Kramer referred to Landau as “the killer catalyst of...
27. The Big Bust
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Toward the end of 1970, having been transferred back from Marquette, John Sinclair surveyed the post-Woodstock scene from his cell at Jackson State Prison. He and other members of the White Panthers decided on a change in identity to something less threatening and more inclusive. “We...
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Ed “Punch” Andrews: As the band-booking business consolidated in the early seventies, Andrews focused exclusively on managing the career of Bob Seger, which he continues to do today. In the nineties, on Seger’s recommendation...
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Selected Album Discography
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Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2011