Perfect Sound Forever

Rob Tyner

by Michael Leshkevich
(November 1998)

photo by Leni Sinclair
This essay is a edited version of the liner notes to the Rob Tyner CD Rock and Roll People available from Motor City Music.
Rob Tyner was the lead singer and driving creative force of the notorious MC5. The Five should have been the biggest thing to come out of Detroit. They expressed the all-out "total assault" of Motor City rock & roll like no other band of their time (or ours), but because of internal frictions and external pressures they became a casualty of their own notoriety.

Following the demise of the MC5, Rob Tyner remained involved in the Michigan music scene as a writer, producer and most of all performer. In 1977 he formed the Rob Tyner Band with four young musicians from the east side of Detroit. In order to gain backing they were persuaded to bill the group as the "New MC5." This was a compromise that Tyner was never very comfortable with, and out of respect for the MC5 and their fierce legacy we present this music under its proper moniker, the Rob Tyner Band.

For an up and coming generation of Detroit rock & rollers who never got to experience the glory of the Grande Ballroom days, we just wanted to hear music that would live up to that standard. This is a raw live recording from the Motor City rock scene of the late 70s. Full of high energy music from the stage and an appropriately rowdy response from the audience, this is a true representation of the Detroit rock & roll experience. So return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear with the Rob Tyner Band and their high times in Motor City music history.

It is a hot summer day in Detroit. On Michigan Avenue the traffic is busy heading downtown. On a corner of Michigan near Livernois, a crowd is already gathering at the old Kramer Theatre. Excitement and expectation are building as the "young rock & roll addicts" (as John Sinclair liked to call them) gather for a New Wave spectacular that will bring together hard-hitting bands from around the city in the time-honored Detroit tradition. Among them are Bittersweet Alley (whose drummer Chad Smith would go on to find fame with the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Destroy All Monsters (featuring former Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and MC5 bassist Michael Davis), and the headlining Rob Tyner Band. (Note: In order to gain backing, they were presuaded to bill the group as the "New MC5." This was a compromise Tyner was never very comfortable with, and out of respect for the MC5 and their fierce legacy we present this music under its proper moniker.)

As the crowd is waiting to hear Rob Tyner and his new band, they are backstage waiting their turn. As the other bands play extended sets and the show runs longer and longer, the tension in the air builds. The crowd is rockin' and ready to hear this distinctly Detroit quintet and experience the kind of rock & roll energy that exists nowhere else on the planet. Rob is wired, and his crew from the east side are ready -- Robert Gillespie on lead guitar, Bill Wimble on rhythm, Mike Marshall on bass, and Ralph (the Bruiser) Serafino on drums; they are young and brash and don't care what anybody thinks, they just want to kick out some jams for the people.

The stage is set but time is running dangerously short as Rob Tyner finally takes command of the microphone: "We need more power in the lead vocal mic!" Gillespie and Wimble amp up their guitars and people are yelling and the energy is high and the sound is back, back, back!!! Come with us to Detroit, back to 1977, and hear the Rob Tyner Band blow out the Kramer Theatre. They came to do battle with their music, and before the night was over mayhem broke loose and security cut off the power and forced the band to leave the stage. This is what rock & roll was like in Detroit. This is "Rock 'n' Roll People" (to borrow the title of one of the group's tunes) doing what they did best. Turn it up!

See Part 4 of our tribute, David Thomas' The (R)Evolution of Rob Tyner

Return to the MC5 tribute

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