Dennis 'Machine Gun' Thompson, Drummer of MC5, Dies at 75

Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson, legendary drummer of proto-punk band MC5, dies at 75. Thompson was the last surviving member of MC5's classic lineup and leaves behind a legacy as a pioneering drummer.

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Dennis 'Machine Gun' Thompson, Drummer of MC5, Dies at 75

Dennis 'Machine Gun' Thompson, Drummer of MC5, Dies at 75

Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson, the legendary drummer of the Detroit proto-punk band MC5, has passed away at the age of 75. Thompson was rehabilitating from a heart attack in April when he died on Thursday morning at MediLodge in Taylor, Michigan.

Thompson joined MC5 in 1965, shortly after the band's formation by guitarist Wayne Kramer and bassist Fred "Sonic" Smith. He earned his nickname "Machine Gun" due to hisrapid-fire drum styleand the band's militant sound. MC5 found success in Detroit, playing regular gigs and drawing over a thousand people to their nightly shows at the Grande Ballroom.

The band's debut album, "Kick Out the Jams," was recorded live in 1969 and featured the iconic title track, as well as "Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)" and a cover of John Lee Hooker's "Motor City Is Burning." Thompson'sdrumming style, heavily influenced by jazz greats like Elvin Jones and rock pioneers Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell, was characterized by its driving rhythm and powerful sound. "Dennis was thrilled with it, so excited and happy,"Becky Tyner, widow of MC5 vocalist Rob Tyner, said of the band's upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After MC5 disbanded in the early 1970s, Thompson played in various groups, including the New Order, the Motor City Bad Boys, and the New Race. He also performed in MC5 reunion lineups and was said to have played percussion on the group's first album in half a century, which has yet to be released. Thompson was the last surviving member of MC5's classic lineup.

MC5 was known for its loud, confrontational sound and fierce left-wing politics, which made them a central part of the emerging punk rock movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite their abrasive sound and controversial image, the band built a reputation through their explosive live performances. Thompson's drumming was a key element of MC5's sonic assault.

Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson leaves behind a legacy as a pioneering drummer and a crucial figure in the birth of punk rock. His passing marks the end of an era, as all the original members of MC5 are now gone. The band's music and rebellious spirit, however, continue to inspire and influence generations of musicians. MC5 will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October 2024, a long-overdue recognition of their groundbreaking contributions to rock music.