I was looking through the paper this morning when I came across an article about the Detroit-based rock group, MC5. You might remember them - they were huge back in the 60’s. Apparently they’re embroiled in a lawsuit regarding a documentary that was made about the band and they need cash to get it released.
It reminded me of a rather memorable run-in I had with them during the height of their success. It was sometime in ‘68 or ‘69 and I had been hired to emcee a record hop at a Catholic High School on the East Side. (I forget which one). I would “spin the tunes”, then that night’s “featured act” the MC5 would come on stage and play a set. We went back and forth this way as the kids danced (leaving room for Jesus between themselves and their partners of course, on the slow songs!).
The dance was set to end at 11pm, and by about 10:55, because it was almost over, there were about 20 assorted nuns, a priest or two, and quite a few parents standing against the back wall waiting and watching.
I was standing in the hallway just outside the gym when I heard the lead singer of the group yell into the microphone, “We’re gonna finish out the evening with one more song… It’s our biggest hit!”
Now, if you remember the MC5, you probably know what song he was referring to.
Before I could get to the stage, the band launched into the song, “Kick Out The Jams… Mother F——-er”.
Kids being kids, they started dancing and laughing, but the nuns faces went as white as the Priest’s collars, the Priests looked like they were about to meet their maker, and the parents… well, you can only imagine.
I pushed my way through the packed crowd, gave the band the “wrap it up sign” and they did - ending the song prematurely.
The band was mad. But not as mad as I was. I told them because of what they did, they weren’t getting paid. “What?” said one of the guys. “All we sang was “Kick Out The Jams Mother Trucker!” I said, “You may have said ‘Trucker’ but that’s not what everyone in the crowd thought - especially the parents, priests and nuns.” So I told them again that they were’nt getting paid.
(Come to think of it, this may have launched the whole rock-bands-smashing-their-guitars thing, but I digress).
As everyone filed out of the gym, the Band packed up and I stuck to my guns about not paying them.
For about 15 minutes.
Not particularly anxious to get beat up in the parking lot by a rock band, I eventually gave them the cash.
They went home. I went home. And that’s the end of the story. But it is one of the few of the hundreds and hundreds of record hops that I emceed that I vividly recall… at least the end of it!
What a bunch of Mother Truckers!