Bobble Blogging: The MC5’s Wayne Kramer and Iggy & The Stooges’ James Williamson

You know all those overused descriptions you read in reviews by writers (like the one penning these words) referencing a great guitarist’s ability to play his ass off each and every time, ones like “tearing it up,” “ripping it out,” “shredding,” and “wailing?” Well, in the cases of Wayne Kramer (MC5) and James Williamson (Iggy & The Stooges) those could not be more apt descriptions. Both icons of the axe have been immortalized as Limited Edition (750) Guitar God “Riffing” Collectibles, individually numbered bobble heads that inclusive of a recorded signature riff that you can hear by pushing a button on the base mount.

by Scott Alisoglu


I’m a huge fan of the seminal recordings of both guitarists, especially those on which Brother Wayne played, As such, it was with great enthusiasm that I agreed to shed some figurative ink on the little buggers in exchange for the privilege of adding them to my fireplace mantle along with the likes of Alice Cooper, Lemmy Kilmister, and Iron Maiden’s Eddie, amongst other various and sundry heavy metal and rock ‘n roll items.  My particular Riffing Collectibles are hand numbered 24 and 166 for James and Wayne, respectively, on a cool box that also includes a biographical sketch of each guitarist.

So what’s the big deal about Wayne Kramer and James Williamson? Allow me to get you up to speed. Brother Wayne Kramer lit it up like the 4th of July on 1969’s MC5 debut album Kick Out the Jams, considered one of the greatest live albums of all time (and rightly so), as well as on subsequent studio albums Back in the USA (1970) and High Time (1971). The Detroit quintet was politically militant to a rabid extent, involved with the likes of manager John Sinclair’s White Panther Party (a radical organization established to support the Black Panther Party) and raising hell at events like the riotous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  Well, “Brother” Wayne, as late vocalist Rob Tyner called him during one of many magical moments on Kick out the Jams, and his partner in crime (in more ways than one) the late Fred “Sonic” Smith were tossing out ferocious riffs and scorching solos like they were Molotov cocktails at a violent Vietnam war protest. After spending time in federal prison and dabbling in various other activities, musical and otherwise, Wayne went out to release some damn solid solo albums, his debut The Hard Stuff hands down the best of the bunch. To quote from the biography on the box, “As the teenaged founder of Detroit’s legendary MC5, Wayne has been credited with leading musical movements as far reaching as high-energy sci-fi rock and roll in a mind meld with free jazz, to resisting recognition as the primary progenitor of not only punk rock,  but also heavy metal and grunge.”

In the way of digression, I periodically think back to those old Corrosion of Conformity shirts from the 1991 Blind tour that stated in big white letters on the back “Free Dope and Fucking in the Streets.” Where do you think the inspiration for that statement originated?  You may recall Pepper Keenan sporting an MC5 shirt with some frequency in fact. I’m still pissed at myself for not buying one of these when I saw COC (with Rollins Band) on that same tour in Pontiac, Michigan. Last I looked they were selling for around $200 on e-Bay.

Moving on to Mr. Williamson, James is best known as the guitarist that played on the third Stooges release Raw Power (1973). That was the album that saw The Stooges become Iggy & The Stooges, owing to Pop’s ascendance as a world class Wildman who was taken under the wing (sort of) of one David Bowie.  In any case, Williamson brought a wide open, more traditional in a sense (though absolutely savage) style of guitar playing that contrasted with the primal, less-is-more approach of Ron Asheton on the self-titled debut and Fun House. In fact, Ron would move to bass guitar to make room Williamson. In any event, Raw Power made a tremendous impact on what would become punk rock, as well as heavy metal. The album is considered one on which the songwriting style become more conventionally structured, but was far more extreme than much of what was being released at the time. Williamson also played on Iggy Pop’s Kill City album (1974).

Musicians like Slash (Gun N’ Roses), Lemmy (Motorhead), and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) have all praised Raw Power as being enormously influential. James Williamson would later join the reformed Stooges for world touring purposes after the passing of Ron Asheton in 2009.  Last I heard the jury was still out on whether there will be second Iggy & The Stooges album with Williamson. We’ll see.

So there you have it, folks. I’ve never written about bobble heads or action figures of any kind until now. I rather enjoyed it. If you’re interested in acquiring these fine products, then please click on one or both of the following links.



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