Book Review: The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, & My Life of Impossibilities By Wayne Kramer (Da Capo Press)

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By: Jesse Striewski

It’s easy to assume that a book with a title like The Hard Stuff will be just another run-of-the-mill, mindless trip down memory lane by some reckless rock star. But surprisingly, MC5 guitarist/leader Wayne Kramer actually tells his tales of hardships – and accomplishments – through a refreshingly enlightened perspective, rather than simply bragging about rock n’ roll decadence.

Granted, there is plenty of it (decadence); from starting the MC5 in Detroit in the mid-60’s, to heavy drug use/dealing that eventually led him to serving time in prison, Kramer’s trip through rock stardom was unquestionably no walk in the park. But the fact he was able to come through it all not defeated and/or jaded and actually help set up a prison outreach program such as Jail Guitar Doors (along with his wife Margaret Kramer, and English folk hero Billy Bragg), speaks volumes.

I’ve never claimed to be the biggest MC5 fan in the world, but I’ve always held a certain level of respect for them; now after reading Kramer’s book, I have even more for not only the band, but Kramer himself.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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