Bob Ezrin paid tribute to Wayne Kramer – his friend of over 50 years – and said the upcoming final MC5 album, Heavy Lifting, was a fitting tribute to the late band leader.

The record had originally been scheduled for release in 2022, complete with contributions from Tom Morello, Slash, William DuVall, Vernon Reid and others. Weeks before his death on February 2, Kramer said the record features “everyone and yours truly, all bashin’ away on electric guitars.” He added: “That’s my goal – to overload the guitar.”

In a new statement given to Classic Rock, producer Ezrin said it had been a “privilege and an honor” to work with Kramer over the years. “When I came to Pontiac, MI from Toronto in 1970 to work with the Alice Cooper band, the MC5 were already legendary as a kick-ass punk-funk, hard rock band, as revolutionaries and as some of the very best players and performers in the region,” he said.

“And that was saying something because Detroit was exploding with talent at the time both in R&B and in Rock. They were already stars then - having had a hit single with ‘Kick Out The Jams.’ They were headliners.”

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He continued: “Wayne was a force of nature. A soul man in a rock ’n’ roll body, lean and slinky – a dancing, whirling profusion of hair and hipness who also happened to be one of the best guitar players any of us had ever heard. I looked up to him. I wanted to be on the same bus he was on.”

When the pair eventually worked together decades later, Ezrin said, Kramer “had less hair, but no less soul or fire, and a special humanity about him; a warmth and generosity of spirit that made being in the room with him feel like going home.”

The producer couldn’t help falling in love with the guitarist, who’d “developed a purpose and mission that embodied the finest essence of service to others.” He added: “Brother Wayne is in my heart and will remain there forever. He was the best of us; pure of spirit and intention.

Wayne Kramer ‘Changed and Saved Lives’

“He changed and saved lives with his devotion to justice and to raising up those of us who needed it the most – both through music and also through activism, guidance and mentorship.”

Turning to the album, Ezrin admitted he didn’t have a release date to share, but confirmed: “It’s coming. Of that I am certain.” He described the work as “a masterful testament to Wayne’s brilliance as a writer, a player and an arranger. It’s a snapshot of a guitar man at the height of his powers.

“We poured our hearts into the project along with all the amazing musicians who contributed to it… Our mantra in the making of the record was ‘We Are All MC5.’ And now, with Wayne’s passing, I know we all feel a responsibility to make sure that his work is heard and he is celebrated.”

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