John Sinclair at OpenAir

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24min 09sec
photo: John Sinclair at OpenAir

Sinclair has a long and storied history in rock music. He served as the manager of proto-punk band The MC5 in the 1960s, and his arrest for possession of marijuana in 1969 inspired the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally." That 1971 event featured Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs and John Lennon, who wrote the song "John Sinclair" in his honor.

Sinclair joined us all the way from Amsterdam to play with his Blues Scholars band. He performs tonight at the Fifth Annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash at Denver's Mercury Café. The event will feature music, poetry and stories celebrating the 88th birthday and life of the late Neal Cassady. Cassady, a Denver native, was the archetype Beat writer as well as the protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”

Sinclair spoke with Mike Flanagan about his arrest for marijuana possession and how John Lennon joined the movement to free him from prison, along with the joy of listening to blues music on the radio growing up in Flint, Mich.

Stream the entire interview and performance above!