Back on Shakin’ Street: “Blowing Fuses Left & Right: The Legendary Detroit Rock Interviews”

By on March 7, 2018

Blowing Fuses Left & Right: The Legendary Detroit Rock Interviews compiles vintage 1988 interviews with Detroit proto-punk rockers Ron Asheton (of the Stooges) and Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson (of the MC5), which were conducted by then-nineteen year old Gil Margulis.

Watch this 90-minute conversation with Asheton and Thompson now on Night Flight Plus.


Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Dennis Thompson of MC5 (photo: S. Rynski)

The full 3-hour DVD also features Margulis’s interview with the MC5’s Rob Tyner (we believe his interview with Tyner was the singer’s last; both he and Ron Asheton have since passed away).

There’s also an opening segment featuring Margulis, standing in front of his Westfield, New Jersey high school, talking about how the MC5 played at the very same school on October 3, 1969.


Margulis didn’t discover that the MC5 had played a concert at his school until the mid-’80s, and he wanted to know more about the men who made the music that came from Detroit city and evidently changed his life.

Margulis grabbed up his camcorder and the plane ticket his parents had given him for his nineteenth birthday, and flew up to Detroit to track down band members from some of the early punk-infused bands that had rocked the Motor City decades earlier.


During that opening sequence, Margulis explains that these interviews were initially going to be included in a more comprehensive Detroit rock documentary called Back on Shaking Street, which he describes as being “primitive and made on a shoestring budget out of my own pocket.”

MC5 fans will recognize that “Shakin’ Street” was a track on their 1970 album Back in the USA, so perhaps that’s where his “Shaking” title was derived.

Margulis adds: “But it was well received and loved by fans all over the world.”


John Sinclair with members of MC5: drummer Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson, bassist Michael Davis and vocalist Rob Tyner in 1968 (photo by Leni Sinclair at the Hill Street commune in Ann Arbor)

Margulis had believed these interview tapes were missing and presumed lost for several decades, when he found them again in a Garden State attic.

There’s also limited “Deluxe Edition” DVD which features additional exclusive interviews Margulis did with Jon Sinclair (the MC5’s manager), Russ Gibb (owner of legendary Detroit venue the Grande Ballroom) and Scott Morgan (of the Rationals and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band).

Read more about Blowing Fuses Left & Right: The Legendary Detroit Rock Interviews below.


Hey! Do you have a Night Flight Plus subscription?

We’re offering up original uncut air masters of Night Flight programming from the video vaults of the 1980s TV show, as well as provocative new selections from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult films and more. Sign up today!


The interview with Ron Asheton begins with a title card describing how Margulis drove to Asheton’s house in Ann Arbor, while listening to a cassette of the Stooges’ Funhouse album.

When he arrives at Asheton’s house — it turns out to be his mother’s house — Asheton is mainly seen sitting in the kitchen, guzzling cans of Coors beer and chainsmoking.


Asheton also rants his way through his issues with electronic music and “today’s technology,” although mostly he keeps everything in check, perhaps because we can hear his mom in the background, as well as someone named Bob answering a phone.

Asheton also takes Margulis to a little summer sublet house in Ann Arbor that they turned into their rehearsal space, and the house of the Stooges’ first manager, where they played their very first gig on Halloween night in 1967.

It’s Asheton who comes up with the documentary’s title, describing how, when the Stooges played early on, they were “blowing fuses left and right.”


Iggy & the Stooges (Dave Alexander, Scott Asheton, Ron Asheton) post at Elektra in L.A. while making their album Fun House on May 23, 1970 (photo by Ed Caraeff)

Blowing Fuses Left & Right also features Margulis’s 45-minute interview with Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson.

Thompson earned his nickname because of his fast, hard-hitting drumming (which was said to resemble a Thompson machine gun, or “Tommy Gun”), an unrelenting barrage-style of drumming that influenced punk, metal and hardcore music for decades to come.


Margulis tells us he told Thompson he  “wanted to find out who these radical rockers were that nearly caused a riot in my small, very conservative town.”

Margulis says that it was Thompson who encouraged him and “opened the door to all the other musicians.”


Thompson seated in what appears to be a bedroom in a home in Lincoln Park, Michigan, with an assault-style automatic “machine gun” behind him, standing up in a corner of the room.

He wears mirror sunglasses and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, looking kinda like he could be playing a drug-crazed arms dealer on an episode of “Miami Vice.”


Thompson, much like Asheton, is a bit confrontational, and veers into angry rants about nearly everything, including topics touching on governments, capitalism, terrorism and then-president Ronald Reagan.

He even grabs a nearby mounted globe and begins giving Margulis lessons about the death of the Sixties revolution (“… all the philosophy, all the beautiful idealism was not killed when the revolution died, it was buried…”).

Thompson adds that the MC5’s political agenda was a strong stand against the Vietnam War (“politics were really mostly John Sinclair’s stuff… the press fabricated the rest”).


Gil Margulis

Gil Margulis lived in Westfield for much of his life, until 2009, according to the New Jersey Jewish News blog, telling them he was finally able to make his “long-deferred dream of living in Israel come true.”

Margulis  founded a non-profit organization called Friends of Israel Firefighters.

Watch Blowing Fuses Left & Right: The Legendary Detroit Rock Interviews on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.