Dennis Thompson, MC5 Drummer and Last Classic Member, Dead at 75

May 9, 2024 - News

Dennis Thompson, the drummer and last remaining member of MC5, has died at the age of 75.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Thompson passed away at MediLodge of Taylor, a care facility outside of Detroit. The rocker had been rehabilitating there following a heart attack suffered in April.

In a 2018 post on his website, Thompson recalled catching “the bug for playing music” when he was just 13 years old. “My parents were disappointed that I chose the band over school but they supported my decision,” the rocker wrote. “Who would know what fate had in store for me. If my parents ever thought I would wind up on a high performance search and destroy team as the MC5, I think my drums might have magically disappeared one night.”

READ MORE: MC5’s Wayne Kramer Dead at 75

Thompson became a member of MC5 in 1965, joining the classic lineup which included singer Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith and bassist Michael Davis. Thompson was the last surviving member of the group – Tyner and Smith died in the ’90s, Davis passed in 2012, and Kramer and the band’s longtime manager John Sinclair died earlier this year.

Thompson’s Style Was Imperative to MC5

Given the nickname “Machine Gun” because of his aggressive style of playing, Thompson was pivotal to MC5’s sound. The influential proto-punk group released a pair of studio albums in the ‘70s, both of which Thompson played on. He also contributed to their groundbreaking 1969 LP Kick Out the Jams, as well as many further live releases. Thompson also reportedly played on two tracks for MC5’s yet-to-be-released final album, Heavy Lifting.

In April, MC5 was announced as inductees for the 2024 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class. Thompson, who was recovering in the hospital at the time, was reportedly delighted by the honor and declared “It’s about fucking time!” when the announcement was made.

“Dennis was thrilled with it, so excited and happy,” Becky Tyner, widow of MC5 vocalist Rob Tyner, recalled. “He just wanted to get home to his cat, Annie, and was optimistic about recovering.”

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Gallery Credit: Chad Childers, Loudwire

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