A bona fide guitar hero, Wayne Kramer takes risks. Big ones. Lexington, his last album, is free-jazz barely-harnessed instrumental madness. When Lexington landed in the Top 10 on Billboard’s jazz charts at #6 nationally, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke called it “fiercely progressive.” Just like the man himself.
He was a teenaged greaser and leader of Detroit’s MC5, who are widely revered as the prototype for punk rock and heavy metal. They released three albums and imploded, but not until their single “Kick Out the Jams” got them high into the charts and kicked off their label.
Wayne spent 1976-1978 in federal prison where he was tutored by trumpeter and fellow inmate Red Rodney (Charlie Parker Quintet). It was Red who taught Wayne how to hone his sight-reading skills and the two formed a prison band. After release, Wayne co-wrote the acclaimed R&B musical The Last Words of Dutch Schultz with Mick Farren, then joined Don Was’ revolutionary acid funk band Was (Not Was) as its original guitarist. Wayne helped define the band’s sound through, of all things, their dance hit “Wheel Me Out”.
He moved to Los Angeles and signed with Epitaph Records, having recorded four records in as many years and toured the world 10 times over. Then, he launched a career as a film and television composer. He scored Talladega Nights for Adam McKay (Sony Pictures), and HBO’s controversial documentary Hacking Democracy. He wrote additional underscore for the Daydreamer (Aron Paul), C.O.G (David Sedaris), Welcome To Me (Kristen Wiig/Shira Piven), and Being Evel (Daniel Junge).
He scored Bad Judge (NBC) starring Kate Walsh, Why Not with Shania Twain (OWN), and Danny McBride’s East Bound & Down (HBO), as well as Concrete Blondes, Let Fury Have the Hour, Narcotic Farm, The Russian Five, CREEM: The Story of Boy Howdy, and Algren. And, he wrote and produced all the original songs for the stop-motion animated feature Hell & Back.
He’s written themes for Fox Sports Network, E! Entertainment, Food Network, and Bravo. The list of commercials to which he’s contributed score is too long to chronicle.
Wayne’s story is deep and was, at one time, a sordid one. Naturally, he completed his memoir The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, The MC5 & My Life Of Impossibilities for Hachette/DaCapo in August 2018. It won the Michigan Notable Book Award among other national and international accolades.
And the story continues with Teragram.
“I’m the white boy with the wah-wah.”