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nicole weingart

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MC5's Wayne Kramer on Prison Rehab With a Beat

Jail Guitar Doors sends musicians into prisons with instruments of positive change.

Wayne Kramer, according Rolling Stone, is one of the top 100 guitarists in the world. Heck, Activision featured him in their Guitar Hero: World Tour video game. Starting in 1967 with the politically active MC5—aside from being Detroit’s most ripping proto-punk band, they were co-founders of the White Panthers—Kramer has been longstanding intermediate on the divide between music and politics, driving his involvement in the U.S. branch of Jail Guitar Doors, Billy Bragg’s initiative to provide new guitars to prisoners willing to find rehabilitation in music.

After MC5 disbanded, Kramer went into a tailspin, culminating in a three-year stint in a Kentucky "Narcotic Farm" prison (1976-78). There, he met Red Rodney, a member of the Charlie Parker Quintet, who took him under his wing, and Kramer found that music helped him rehabilitate into the world. Nowadays, Kramer is a career musician with 11 solo albums, scores to several films, television programs, and theme songs to his credit, but much of his time is devoted to Jail Guitar Doors.

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