We’ve heard reports of some fireworks backstage during Don Was’ Detroit Super Session show at the Concert of Colors last Sunday evening. First, we heard that the concert promoters were none too happy about Mark Norton of the Ramrods doing his “punk rock” thang on the rented onstage baby grand piano during his song. In fact, we heard our friend Norton was even asked to give a credit card number to the organizers
just in case. More baffling is why former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer didn’t play the show after flying into Detroit from L.A. specifically to do it. One local newspaper called it “personal reasons.”
According to Freddie Brooks, who currently works with Was (Not Was) keyboardist Luis Resto and formerly worked with the late MC5 guitarist Fred Smith and his Sonics Rendezvous Band, Wayne decided not to play the show because Freddie was in the room. There is no love lost between the pair, of course — dating back to the MC5 legal issues, including the aborted A True Testimonial film, which have been going on seemingly forever now. We’re told there was no interaction between the two arch enemies, but that Wayne had said during the rehearsal on Saturday that he wouldn’t play if Brooks was at the show. We also heard that Resto and guitarist Randy Jacobs then said they wouldn’t play if Brooks wasn’t allowed at the show. Sounds like a mess for a show that was supposed to celebrate Detroit rock music and be all about the good vibes. We feel sorry in retrospect for the always Zen-like Mr. Was.
Norton says he saw Kramer leave the building with his wife and manager Margaret right after the Ramrods’ set — “I asked ‘Wayne, where are you going/’ — but it was like he didn’t see me and they just got into a taxi.” An e-mail to Kramer’s Muscletone label and Margaret wasn’t returned but Don Was did get back to us earlier today:
“I never saw Wayne at Orchestra Hall on Sunday and haven't spoken with him since, so any comment from me about exactly why he didn't play would be entirely speculative,” he e-mailed. “This much I can tell you: ‘Kick Out The Jams’ was slamming at the rehearsal on Saturday, so I don't think he split over musical differences with the band!
“Wayne's been a good friend for 25 years. He very generously flew across the country to participate — for free — in the Concert of Colors. He must have been very disappointed about missing that opportunity. I know that he did not walk away from the gig in a cavalier fit of pique. You should probably ask him about it directly, no? I'd love to know what transpired in the green room!” If you want to get back to us, Wayne, we’re more than happy to report your side of this story. At any rate, we would have loved to hear “Kick Out The Jams" Sunday night.
In other Was news, Don reports that our interview with him two weeks ago “resonated far and wide. I was even contacted by Pieta Brown's manager in Georgia who, reading of my interest in his client, offered me the producer's gig on her upcoming album!” That’s great, Don. MT is always glad to be of service.
Don Was and Wayne Kramer (second & third from left)