Poet, musician, activist, Amsterdam.
John Sinclair (born 1941 in Flint, Michigan) is a poet, author, musician, historian of the Blues und Jazz, political activist and a legend of American 60s and 70s counter-culture. Sinclair studied American Literature at Wayne State University in Detroit. He co-founded the Detroit Artists’ Workshop, which later morphed into the Trans-Love-Energies-Commune, and the underground zine, The 5th Estate. From 1966 to 1969 he was manager of the revolutionary Rock'n'Roll and Proto-Punk band MC5 and in1968/69 chairman of the militant left-wing White Panther Party, which strove to support the Black Panthers in their struggle for civil rights. As the White Panther Party’s mouthpiece and under the rallying cry, "Total Assault on the Culture", MC5 spread radical political statements throughout the Rock'n'Roll fan community.
The Detroit News described Sinclair as the “High Priest of the Detroit hippies". His radical political views and activities soon drew him unwelcome attention from the authorities, which were using increasingly repressive measures to quell nascent counter-culture. In July 1969 Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in jail for possession of two joints. In prison he wrote the underground classics Guitar Army and (together with Robert Levin) Music & Politics. His imprisonment triggered nationwide protests, and made him a figurehead of the fight to decriminalise marijuana. 3 days after 15,000 people, including John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Alan Ginsberg, Steve Wonder and Bobby Seale, staged a protest march in Ann Arbor Sinclair was finally released, after 2 years inside. His original conviction was later overturned.
Sinclair subsequently founded the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival and published several volumes of poetry. Since the mid-70s he has played in numerous bands, compèred radio shows, written for music magazines and performed his poetry. He now lives and works in Amsterdam.
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