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John Sinclair, Former MC5 Manager and Counterculture Activist, Dies at 82

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A.D. Amorosi John Sinclair, the counterculture activist and former MC5 manager who helped define that proto-punk ensemble’s radical politics, died on Tuesday at 82.

Sinclair’s death from congestive heart failure at the Detroit Receiving Hospital was first reported by the Detroit News and confirmed by a representative for his family.

Long before social media’s instant impact, Sinclair helped spawn the pointedly politicized alternative newspaper movement as a fast fount of information about the “underground,” as the counterculture was termed at the time, with Detroit publications such as Fifth Estate (which still exists), the Ann Arbor Sun, the Detroit Artists Workshop Press and its offshoot Work Magazine.

Later in life, he worked as a spoken-word performer and recording artist with an eye toward what he called “jazz poetry,” recording more than 30 albums with different band names, including the Blues Scholars which included his longtime friend Wayne Kramer, the MC5 guitarist and cofounder who passed away in February this year. “Sinclair is one of those ‘a lot of things to a lot of people’ kind of guys,” Kramer told Billboard in 2018. “He has a lot of passions, a lot of interests, a lot of causes that he maintains … Not always a saint or the easiest guy to get along with, and sometimes we hated him.

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