Uncle Russ was a man of many talents. A school teacher, a disc jockey, and most important of all, a gutsy entrepreneur.

He had the spit to deal with the police, the fire department, the landlord, the police, but most of all, the MC5.

No Uncle Russ no Grande Ballroom.

His most invaluable pioneering work in the Detroit Rock and Roll scene established Detroit as a rock and roll Mecca. He dutifully helped catapult many rock and roll careers. Especially mine.

 Will forever remember him as a wonderful man to work with, but most of all a great friend and confidante. He was a rock and roll father figure who earned the respect and the gratitude of every band he ever worked with.

That list is a mile long.

He will forever have a place in my heart. 
Thank you, Uncle Russ...


For every drummer that has a unique style, odds are high they have studied many other drummer's styles.

We borrow (steal) beats and moves we like. Just about every rock drummer, as in every other discipline, the study of your peers is very important. In my case, I had to practice in the woodshed until I was blue in the face.

I highly recommend learning the 40 basic drum rudiments by playing along to your fave tunes (try it with headphones on). I had to stop doing the double stroke roll and fashion a new approach based on the single stroke roll, like The Who's drummer, Keith Moon.

The guys in the MC5 were using Marshall, Super Beatle, and Sun amps each pumping out 200 watts. (LOUD) In the early days, if I played traditional grip, I was not heard. Not miked so it was so hard to be heard with the guitars played on ten-volume.

 Rob Tyner (RIP) and MGT

So what did I do? Take a guess.

I had to play the hardest of any drummer of the day just to be heard.
Had to teach myself to play match grip. On every fill-in on the snare drum, I had to hit rim shots. This was not easy.

Breaking 5B's, 2B's and eventually 2S drumsticks was normal for me!

When playing at the Grande, Bro Jesse Crawford kneeled behind me. His job was to immediately hand me a 5B drumstick every time I broke one (normally 5 to 7 sticks per show). Watch "MC5 at Tartar Field Ramblin' Rose". I break four stix on that one song.

Breaking snare drum rims, bass drum pedals, all the cymbals, and every size drum head, not to mention knocking over all of the cymbal stands would piss me off. So, when I was angry I would fire a drumstick out into the crowd or into Rob Tyner's back. Especially whenever he would let "Looking At You" play on and on for what seemed forever... Poor me!

Flying stick!

Dangerous stuff that. Thank goodness I never hurt someone. Most likely because everyone's eyes were glued to the stage.

I developed very severe callouses on both hands, especially my left hand. Some of you drummers know exactly what I mean. Then came the blood blisters. Talk about pain? The blisters would form again, on top of the blood blisters and callouses.

The next night on stage the puffed-up water blisters would explode again, leaving the painful tenderized skin raw. Super glue and medical tape and gauze became my best friend. It was miserable...

So next I tried poppin' the blisters a couple days before a show. Didn't work either. Damn, damn, damn the MC5!! I'm going back to college! Screw this s***!!

Oh, did I forget to mention losing 5 to 7 pounds per show, and consequently earning the world title as the hardest-workin' drummer on this planet? Honest.

The upshot?

My Ludwig Marine Oyster Kit

Ron Levine, my friend, and group stagehand secured an endorsement deal for me as a frontline consultant for the Ludwig Drum Co. Ludwig recruited me to help William Ludwig Jr. on a project to beef up of all of the drum kit hardware. Cymbal stands, snare and hi-hat stands, and thrones.

See the photo for the first heavy-duty Ludwig kit we designed..Of course they gave me the kit!



Sirius Trixon and the Motor City Bad Boys were billed as “legendary,” and one has to admit that anyone who can come up with a name like that deserves some sort of place in rock‐and‐roll annals. NY Times read more

Band Line Up (during MGT's time)
Legendary Sirius Trixon/Singer Promoter/Public Relations Extraordinaire
Glenn Dean Lead Guitar
Phil Carlisi Rhythm Guitar 
Rikki St James (rip) Bass
Dennis Thompson Drums
Jim Jam Cigarettes, mirror shades, black leather motorcycle jacket 

Joey Ramone Ron Asheton Trixon and Fred Sonic Smith

“Bad Boys Gang” / “Out On The Streets” (Caravan) 1970's
“Shirley Tell Us The News” / “Big Time Bum” (Caravan) 1970’s
“Hollywood Queen” / “Teenage Hangout” (Caravan) 1970’s
“Johnny B. Bad” / “Stop In The Name Of The Law” (Caravan) 1970's
“Loud ‘N’ Clear” / “Innocent Curls” (Caravan) 1970’s

Glenn Dean Dennis Thompson and Rikki St James

Infamous Pink Cadillac Drum Riser

07/01/77 Max’s Kansas City, New York
08/01/77 Max’s Kansas City, New York
08/07/77 Copperfields, New York
09/07/77 Copperfields, New York
05/08/77 Max’s Kansas City, New York
12/08/77 Great Gildersleeves, New York
13/08/77 Great Gildersleeves, New York
14/08/77 Great Gildersleeves, New York
09/09/77 Great Gildersleeves, New York
10/09/77 Great Gildersleeves, New York
11/09/77 Great Gildersleeves, New York
01/11/77 CBGB’s, New York
02/11/77 CBGB’s, New York
28/11/77 Second Chance, Ann Arbor
26/05/78 Great Gildersleeves, New York
27/05/78 Great Gildersleeves, New York
02/06/78 Max’s Kansas City, New York
03/06/78 Max’s Kansas City, New York

All Photos from Dennis Thompson Private Collection
Some Photos are courtesy S. Rynski Photography



“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

So what are we left to believe in the final analysis? When all of the baggage of our personal history, emotional and intellectual alike, are neatly placed in a heavy duty Hefty bag and left on our mind’s stoop, what is it that we do next with our lives?

How do we proceed to where it is we think we should be going, if anywhere at all? Is it possible our answers to our burning questions of career, and relationships, and free time, are now within our grasp, finally? I rather doubt it…

I still have nightmares. I still have bad days. I still do silly, sometimes stupid things. I still wonder about the future. I still fret over my past. I still have unrealistic expectations at times. I still wonder what it’s all about. I still continue to try and understand who I am, and what is my true purpose? Still…

We are all works in progress. Who, what, when, where and why. These are the questions we must each face every single day we take a breath. There are no solid endpoints in this process. We learn, we try our best to remember what we learn, we fail, and we try and learn from our mistakes. We experience some minor successes; we celebrate, and then return to a more humble set.

We try to idle in balance with our circumstances as they present themselves. There is no recovery from life. It just keeps living on its own, of its own, and because it adamantly remains chaotically free of our intention to manage to steer its course. The challenge is in the living, not the dying. Dying is so much easier.

No one has all the answers. Not religions, not spiritual leaders, not governing politicians, not big brother, not Google, not the newspaper, the TV, the internet, the movies, the diets, nor the latest greatest breaking fad. It is not in fashion, nor music, nor theater, nor wealth. More stuff is not the answer.

More money is not the solution. Everything is temporary. We attach to this and that, and the next day or week, we find another batch of attachments waiting right around the bend. Our very own degree of attaining enlightenment and love and wisdom is the main purpose of life on earth. Yes? Ya think?

We attempt to set some reasonable, doable goals. We accomplish these goals, and the exuberant feeling of elated success is as fleeting as a day at the beach. We bask in the glow of our little miracles but for a short and sweet time. We set new goals and begin to work diligently and dutifully at this new set. Time advances.

We grow older. There are no endpoints. There is only one series of pursuits followed by yet another. On and on and on…We begin to see a pattern emerge as we grow older and wiser to this unfolding of events. We might even begin to understand somewhat, what might really be going on.

Boy, if I could only win the lotto! Then, my life would be perfect!
Man, if I just get that promotion, I would be on easy street! As soon as the divorce goes through, I will find the true love of my life! School sucks! When I graduate, I will finally be on my own, free to be what I want to be!

I will be in heaven as soon as I quit smoking, go on that diet, work out, get a new job, and buy that new Corvette, that beach house, that pie-in-the-sky future…Nuh-uh…

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present.”

All of us are players in the World Series. This is the only game there is. We laugh, we sing, we dance, we cry, we work, we play, we pay. We will always pay. Pay with our time, our labors, our dreams, and our hopes. We advance two steps, and we might fall back one. We try and get there in a hurry, and get a speeding ticket for the effort.

Somewhere inside of all this daily drama of being a human, there must be an answer. When do we arrive? Are we there yet? Maybe the journey is what is important, not the destination.

Staring us straight in the face every waking minute is the only answer we’ll ever need. Right under our nose lays the meaning of it all. In spite of our self-centered psychological fears, in spite of our immense propensity to place meaning in the externals of a material world, we can know a purpose worth all the riches in the world. It is quite simply, our attitude.
I wish to share a little something that works well for me. I am blessed to have this information.

“I would rather die believing there was a God, and find there was not a God, than to die believing there was not a God, and find there was a God.”—Albert Camus

The infinite intelligence of the ONE. Every day of your life is a gift. Don’t squander it. Don’t waste it by being angry with anyone. Don’t let it slip away by feeling sorry for your self. Be grateful for this precious gift of life and spend it by being as happy and as thankful as you possibly can. Let your mind dwell on the good things which have happened to you.

Let gratitude be your attitude. Think of your assets, and don’t let anyone else spoil your day for you. Enjoy everyday of your life to the fullest. Realize that you can add to the joy of each day by making someone else happy!

Is there some freedom in this plea? Think about the weight of a bad attitude caused by whatever. What is it that each of us has 100% control over every moment? Our attitude… What is it we can change instantaneously? We can change how we feel about ourselves.

This might sound a wee bit naïve, but you must trust it is not. We drown in a sea of self-pity and resentment. We dwell on that which we fear, and this creates those overwhelming feelings of dissatisfaction, of weakness, of failure.

How can we be grateful? Let’s name just a few:
  • Are you breathing?
  • Do you have food in your belly?
  • Do you have a roof over your head?
  • Do you have a car in the garage? 
If you are anything at all like me, you can then quietly check off another hundred things in your life to be very grateful for. The hope and the faith immediately follow if you do this.

Your problems, issues, concerns, and worries will not go away after doing this. You will simply know that all is not lost, all is not a liability. Gratitude is the great balancing potion.

We make ourselves miserable. There is no one to blame. The blame game is one of our greatest failings. There is no they. “They” or “them” are a fabrication we use to qualify our personal unhappiness. We can always find a million reasons to blame someone, or something, or some event that compromises our poise, our grace, our dignity. We will never be free of heart, mind, body, and soul if we play this way.

This is not about sugar coating stresses. This is not about miracle cures for life’s traumas and setbacks. This is about a good way to deal with the aforementioned.

To be free at last, we must let go completely. Just surrender. You don’t own your life, but you can rent or lease your peace and happiness for a time. When your down, look up, when your up, look down. This is not hard, it just takes practice. Essentially “You Gotta Keep Movin’.

Thank you for ALL the amazing support from my fans, friends, and readers in 2018, a most trying year to be sure...

Here's to Kickin Em Out in 2019! 

Dennis Thompson
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