John Sinclair, former MC5 director and activist, dies at 82 | Trending Viral hub

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John Sinclair, the countercultural activist and former MC5 The manager who helped define the radical politics of that proto-punk group died on Tuesday at the age of 82.

Sinclair’s death from congestive heart failure at Detroit Receiving Hospital was first reported by the Detroit News and confirmed by a representative for his family.

Long before the instant impact of social media, Sinclair helped spawn the clearly politicized alternative newspaper movement as a quick source of information about the “underground,” as the counterculture was called at the time, with Detroit publications like Fifth Estate (which still exists). the Ann Arbor Sun, the Detroit Artists Workshop Press and its subsidiary Work Magazine. Later in his life, he worked as a spoken word performer and recording artist with an eye toward what he called “jazz poetry,” recording over 30 albums under different band names, including the Blues Scholars, which included his old friend Wayne Kramer, the Guitarist and co-founder of MC5 dies in February of this year.

“Sinclair is one of those guys who does ‘a lot of things for a lot of people,'” Kramer said. Billboard in 2018. “He has a lot of passions, a lot of interests, a lot of causes that he supports… He’s not always a saint or the easiest guy to get along with, and sometimes we hate him. But I would say he was a mentor and a friend.”

It was through the MC5 that Sinclair found his greatest fame.

In 1966, the rock band Motor City landed a regular gig at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, where they met Sinclair, a radical political writer and leader of the White Panther Party, nicknamed the “King of the Hippies,” and the following year he They named the group’s manager. In turn, Sinclair made them the official band of the White Panthers and promoted their radical politics. After taking the MC5 to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago (where they became the only band to perform there before the police broke up the mass demonstration against the Vietnam War), Sinclair got the band signed to Elektra for their 1969 live debut album, “Kick.” Get out of the traffic jams.”

“He was a very important part of what the MC5 became,” Kramer said.

John Sinclair was born in Flint, Michigan, on October 2, 1941. After enrolling at Albion College in 1960, he dropped out during his freshman year. When he attended Flint College at the University of Michigan, he became a member of the university’s school newspaper. The wordwith his interest in writing and publishing as clear goals for his future.

After graduating from college in 1964, Sinclair began working as a writer for jazz magazine. rhythm down, and in 1965, he delved deeper into poetry, earning high marks with his reading at the now legendary Berkeley Poetry Conference. In 1967, he and his wife, Leni Sinclair, founded the underground newspaper The Ann Arbor Sun. In addition to becoming leader of the White Panther Party around this same time, Sinclair’s growing advocacy of marijuana began to get him into trouble.

With two previous convictions for marijuana possession to his name, Sinclair was arrested in 1969 for possession of two joints (he tried to sell them to an undercover cop) and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The severity of the sentence led many in the music world to rally behind him.

At the Woodstock festival that summer, Pete Townshend kicked Yippie honcho Abbie Hoffman off stage for trying to give a speech about Sinclair during The Who’s performance (the group had no problem with Sinclair, and in fact, later singer Roger Daltrey used to wear a “Free John Sinclair T-shirt; the problem was for interrupting his set). And not only did John Lennon record his song, “John Sinclair,” for his and Yoko Ono’s 1972 album, “Some Time in New York City,” but the pair, along with Detroit natives Bob Seger and Stevie Wonder , attended a 1971 freedom rally in Ann Arbor in solidarity with Sinclair.

Sinclair was released from prison two days after the demonstration.

“John was at the forefront of the marijuana movement,” Matt Lee said. The Detroit News. “But I don’t think people realized how knowledgeable he was of American music and that he was a certified expert in all forms of jazz and American rhythm and blues.”

In addition to publishing albums, reading poetry and writing essays about cannabis, he created the John Sinclair Foundation in 2004, a non-profit organization based in Amsterdam to ensure the preservation and presentation of all his work in the arts, letters and the cannabis. legalization efforts.

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