FEBRUARY 1969: MC5 Release KICK OUT THE JAMS
"We were using the expression for a long time, because we would be critical of other bands that came to Detroit that the MC5 would open for," rock legend Wayne Kramer explained to Songfacts about the origin story for his band's instantly classic title track to the band's debut album, released on February 22, 1969, via Elektra Records. "They'd come into town with this big reputation, and then they'd get up on stage and they weren't very good. So, we used to harass them. We'd yell at them, 'Kick out the jams or get off the stage, motherf--ker!' Finally, one day we said, 'I like that expression. We should use that as the title of a song.'"
Now considered a cornerstone at the intersection of punk, hard rock, garage rock and even heavy metal, Kick Out the Jams was a rarity in rock and roll: a live album debut, recorded over Halloween weekend 1968 at Detroit's legendary Grande Ballroom.
"Playing live was what we did best. Most bands did three albums and then a live album, so we thought we'd be revolutionary and break out with a live album first," Kramer said to Classic Rock in 2014. "It also worked better for the label. MC5 didn't know how to work in the studio, so a studio record could have cost Elektra a fortune and been a lengthy, grueling process."
The album crashed the Billboard 200 to peak at an impressive #30 for the week of May 10, 1969. The #1 album in America that week: the original cast recording of the Broadway production Hair.
"We were going through a very creative period. The band had just moved in together for the very first time. There used to be a building in downtown Detroit that was a dentist's office on the second floor, and we all moved into different rooms in the dentist's office as our bedrooms," Kramer revealed to Songfacts. "And then downstairs was a storefront. I covered the walls with egg crates and made it a rehearsal studio, so for the first time we could rehearse whenever we wanted to - all day, all night if we wanted to - and we all lived there. So, it became possible to really develop some songs and some music. And (singer Rob) Tyner and I developed a little habit of sitting down at the kitchen table with a couple of joints of reefer, a little amp, my electric guitar. He'd have a notepad, I would just play guitar riffs, and he would listen and say, 'Wait, wait... play that one again. No, change that a little bit. OK, play that again. Play that four times.' And then we would start to cobble the songs together. That was where 'Kick Out The Jams' was born."