John Sinclair is legendary as the manager of the rock-and-revolution MC-5 and as the political prisoner in the early days of the War on Drugs whose 1971 release from a 9-1/2-to-10-year sentence for possession of two joints was secured by high-profile supporters like John Lennon and Stevie Wonder.
But in subsequent years John Sinclair forged a whole new legend as an award-winning music programmer and broadcast producer for WWOZ Radio and a New Orleans-based preacher of the power of blues and jazz, "his love and knowledge of which form the basis of his wonderful spoken-word performances" (John Strausbaugh, New York Press).
Now based in Amsterdam, Sinclair continues to criss-cross the USA and western Europe, performing his poetry in front of a wild variety of blues, jazz and rock ensembles. Sinclair is a one-of-a-kind 21st-century American griot who's been called "The Last of the Beatnik Warrior Poets" (Mick Farren, Los Angeles Weekly) and "The Hardest-Working Poet in Show Business" (Ben Edmonds, San Francisco Chronicle).
As a performer and bandleader with his ensemble, the Blues Scholars, and in collaboration with artists from Walter “Wolfman” Washington to Archie Shepp to Willie King to Sonny Fortune & Rashied Ali, John Sinclair has appeared at major events and festivals, nightclubs and coffeeshops, art galleries and community venues from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Detroit International Jazz Festival to the Grand Opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the hempFest in Seattle.
Sinclair has appeared as a principal informant in several recent documentary films, including Punk/attitude and Sun Ra: Brother from Another Planet by Don Letts, MC5: A True Testimonial, and U.S. vs. John Lennon. His own documentary, 20 TO LIFE: The Life & Times of John Sinclair, a film by Steve Gebhardt, is scheduled for 2007 release.
Sinclair’s first book of poems, This Is Our Music, was published by the Detroit Artists Workshop Press in 1965. His latest collection, Va Tutto Bene / It’s All Good, was published by Stampa Alternativa in American and Italian in September 2006. An epic blues work in verse, Fattening Frogs For Snakes: Delta Sound Suite, was published by Surregional Press in 2002. His epic jazz work in verse, always know: a book of monk, is still under construction.
Sinclair has released 15 CDs since his 1995 recording debut with his band, the Blues Scholars, including The Delta Sound, the first volume of Fattening Frogs For Snakes, produced by Andre Williams; Full Circle and White Buffalo Prayer, featuring Wayne Kramer; It’s All Good, featuring the popular Dutch rappers LangeFrans & Baas B; and No Money Down: John Sinclair’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1. Sinclair’s latest CD release is a duet performance with guitarist Mark Ritsema titled criss cross.
In 2004 Sinclair began his current venture into internet broadcasting with the weekly John Sinclair Radio Show and founded RadioFreeAmsterdam.com, one of the pioneers of podcasting, on January 1, 2005. He has served as Poet in Residence at The Dolphins coffeeshop and the 420 Café in Amsterdam and is Director of the Poetry Program at the Cannabis College.
A marijuana activist since 1964, Sinclair has served as the High Priest of the Cannabis Cup and has recently had a potent strain of Dutch marijuana named in his honor. He was also honored in Foggia, Italy, as the International recipient of the Targa Matteo Salvatore for 2006.
December 1, 2006