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Dennis Thompson, Drummer and Last Remaining Member of MC5, Dies at 75

Dennis Thompson, the drummer whose thunderous, hard-hitting style powered the proto-punk sound of the loud, outspoken and highly influential Detroit rock band MC5, died on Thursday in Taylor, Mich. He was 75.

He died in a rehabilitation facility while recovering from a recent heart attack, his son, Chris McNulty, said.

Mr. Thompson was the last surviving member of MC5, a band that was politically outspoken and aligned with the countercultural left, supporting the anti-Vietnam War movement and protests against racism. The band will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in October.

Musically, MC5 was known as one of the forefathers of punk rock, starting with the breakout 1969 live album, “Kick Out the Jams.” The group’s song of the same name was its best-known, covered by Henry Rollins and Bad Brains, The Presidents of the United States of America and Rage Against the Machine.

When Mr. Thompson joined MC5, short for Motor City Five, in 1966 at 17 years old, his intense playing style earned him his nickname “Machine Gun” from his bandmates for how ferociously he played the drums. He played that way because the group could not afford to connect a microphone to his drums in its early days.

“The amps were turned up to 10, so he basically just had to hit the drums as hard as he possibly could to be heard,” Mr. McNulty said.

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