45 Years Ago: MC5 Dropped by Elektra Records For Obscene Ad
Subtlety was not part of the MC5′s mode of operation, and in April of 1969 that mindset — and a profanity-laced newspaper ad — cost them a record deal.
The band released their debut album, the classic ‘Kick Out The Jams,’ in early 1969. Having been a popular attraction on the live Detroit rock scene, the decision was made to record the album live to capture that raw spirit the band possessed. The almost unhinged excitement of the band’s live show was captured in full glory. That glory was not safe for family entertainment.
Hudon’s Department Stores were based in the band’s Detroit home and famously refused to carry the local heroes LP because of what they determined to be obscene lyrical content. After all, the legendary and infamous battle cry of “Kick out the jams Motherf—ers!” is delivered loud and proud by singer Rob Tyner just before the band launch into the album’s most famous tune. Remember, there was no PRMC or warning labels on album covers in those days.
When a big hometown chain like Hudson’s decides not to stock your album, some bands might have tried to negotiate. The MC5, however, took another route. They took out a full page ad in the local Ann Arbor based magazine, Fifth Estate, that read “KICK OUT THE JAM’S, MOTHERF—R! and kick in the door if the store won’t sell you the album on Elektra. F— HUDSON’S!” Though their label had nothing to do with placing it, the band put the Elektra logo in the ad. And you thought the Sex Pistols were the only band that
So, in response to the ad, Hudson’s pulled all Elektra product from all their stores. This action quickly resulted in the MC5 being dropped by the label. They soon signed with Atlantic, who released their second and third albums, ‘Back In The USA‘ and “High Time.’