Between Takes: Space is the Place for Sun Ra and John Sinclair

In Episode 024 of Between Takes, John Sinclair talks about the pre-eminent Afro-futurist of the 1960s-1970s, Sun Ra.

Welcome to Between Takes; where artists and musicians tell stories about what happens behind the scenes.

WDET’s Sam Beaubien has been dedicated to making music in Detroit for 20 years, and this series connects you with the stories he has heard on gigs and at recording sessions.

Get a look into Stevie Wonders audition for Motown Records, sessions with funk master George Clinton, renowned hip-hop producer J Dilla’s first days with a drum machine, and many more stories about what shaped the legacy of this musical city. 

Episode 024

John Sinclair in an important figure in the activism and music movement in Detroit during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Between his imprisonment for marijuana, his role as manager for the MC5, opening the Artist Workshop, and helping found the White Panther Party, John had a huge cultural influence at that time.

As a way to bring people and messages together, John hosted many free concerts and festivals. At these events, you would find cutting-edge music, protests and public speakers talking about change that needed to happen for a better society including conversations about race, police brutality, and the freedom of expression.

Doug Coombe
Doug Coombe

John had a deep love for all genres of music that were a genuine expression of creativity. Jazz, soul, funk and rock — all were welcome at his events. One artist who was known for his freedom of expression and far-out views was Sun Ra. A free-jazz and experimental musician whose music encapsulates the entire history of jazz in a single song, Sun Ra was THE Afro-Futurist of his time. His music was about the cosmos, planets, higher-beings and his whole band lived and worked together day-in and day-out. It was more than music — it was a lifestyle.

John was infatuated with Sun Ra and his music, which was also influential to the MC5. John was interested in meeting and working with Sun Ra. He interviewed Ra and also booked his band to perform in Ann Arbor. 


Essential Conversations: John Sinclair Still Hates the CIA

When John Lennon Supported John Sinclair

John Sinclair, The MC5, and Kickin’ Out The Jams

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  • Sam Beaubien
    Sam Beaubien is a musician, composer, producer, and educator in Detroit. He is also the founder and leader of the acclaimed ensemble, Will Sessions.