By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – “Kick out the jams,” Russ Gibb told the crowd. The legendary concert promoter finished the phrase, suitable to a reception honoring The MC5 July 11 to mark 50 years since the local boys made the big time.
The reception at the Lincoln Park Historical Museum, 1355 Southfield, brought together former classmates and family of several band members, who attended Lincoln Park High School in the early 1960s. Drummer Dennis “Machinegun” Thompson appeared later that evening, and also sat in with local bands in a tribute concert held July 12 at the newly refurbished Lincoln Park Band Shell in Memorial Park, 3240 Ferris Ave.
Gibb, who was instrumental in the group’s rise when he booked them to appear in his landmark Grande Ballroom, was pleased to meet relatives of the group’s lead singer, Rob Tyner.
“Rob was something special,” Gibb recalled. “They were very special. I can’t think of a better band than the MC5.”
The reception marked the opening of a month-long exhibit at the museum. Curator Jeff Day said the idea for a modest collection of memorabilia turned into an impressive display of records, photos, posters and other memories of the group’s early days, before they shot to national attention in 1969 with their debut album, Kick Out the Jams.
Thompson and guitarist Wayne Kramer – the only survivors of the Motor City quintet – donated drum skins, guitar straps and other items to the collection. Local fans and friends contributed a range of objects including high school newspapers for which Tyner had provided illustrations.
More than 100 friends and fans attended the reception, which set the stage for Sunday’s concert featuring local bands Rocket 455, Chatoyant and headliners Timmy’s Organism, whose set was shared by Thompson for a rendition of “Kick Out the Jams.”
The concert marked the first music played on the park’s stage in several years, on the recently restored band shell that city officials said will likely welcome more concerts in the park this year.
The “MC50th” exhibit will remain on display at the museum through Labor Day. For information go to www.lphistorical.org.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])