"Wayne was a force of nature. A soul man in a rock'n'roll body": Bob Ezrin pays tribute to late MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer

Wayne Kramer backstage holding a guitar with (inset) a Bob Ezrin headshot
(Image credit: Wayne Kramer: Chris McKay via Getty Images | Bob Ezrin: Music Rising)

Classic Rock reached out to Bob Ezrin for his thoughts about the passing of Wayne Kramer, and he responded with this personal statement.

Ezrin – who's credits also include extensive work with Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and many others, as well as Kiss' Destroyer and Pink Floyd's The Wall – is currently wrapping up work on a new MC5 album, the first release under the band's name since 1971.

Working with my dear friend Wayne Kramer, not only on the new MC5 album but also on several other projects over the years, has been a privilege and an honor.

When I came to Pontiac, MI from Toronto in 1970 to work with the Alice Cooper band, the MC5 were already legendary as a kick-ass punk-funk, hard rock band, as revolutionaries and as some of the very best players and performers in the region. And that was saying something because Detroit was exploding with talent at the time both in R&B and in Rock. They were already stars then - having had a hit single with Kick Out The Jams. They were headliners.

Wayne was a force of nature. A soul man in a rock'n'roll body, lean and slinky - a dancing, whirling profusion of hair and hipness who also happened to be one of the best guitar players any of us had ever heard.

I looked up to him. I wanted to be on the same bus he was on.

And decades later I finally got the chance to work with him, ironically on an Alice Cooper project. He had less hair, but no less soul or fire, and a special humanity about him; a warmth and generosity of spirit that made being in the room with him feel like going home.

We found we spoke one another’s language. And as I learned about his journey from those early days until the present, during which he developed a purpose and mission that embodied the finest essence of service to others, my respect for him grew and I fell in love with the man.

Brother Wayne is in my heart and will remain there forever. He was the best of us; pure of spirit and intention. He changed and saved lives with his devotion to justice and to raising up those of us who needed it the most - both through music and also through activism, guidance and mentorship.

This new MC5 album in my opinion is a masterful testament to Wayne’s brilliance as a writer, a player and an arranger. It’s a snapshot of a guitar man at the height of his powers. We poured our hearts into the project along with all the amazing musicians who contributed to it, especially Wayne’s writing partner and our lead singer, Brad Brooks. But also Don Was, Abe Laboriel Jr., Dennis Thompson, Tom Morello, Slash, William DuVall, Vicki Randle, Vernon Reid, Joe Berry and many others who brought their passion and shared sensibility to the project. Our mantra in the making of the record was “We Are All MC5”.

And now, with Wayne’s passing, I know we all feel a responsibility to make sure that his work is heard and he is celebrated.

As of now, I don’t know what the schedule is for release of the album. But it’s coming. Of that I am certain.

Bob Ezrin

Bob Ezrin

Described by Alice Cooper as "our George Martin", producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist Bob Ezrin has worked with Pink Floyd, U2, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper,  KISS, Lou Reed, Aerosmith, Hanoi Rocks, The Darkness, Jane's Addiction, Hollywood Vampires, Deftones, Nine Inch Nails and many more. He is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the recipient of three Juno Awards, and an Officer of the Order of Canada. 

With contributions from