Rest in Peace & Power, Wayne Kramer

Dr. Bronner’s Remembers Prison Reform Activist, Legendary Musician, and All-One Changemaker.

wayne kramer
Photo Credit: Jim Newberry / Facebook

We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Wayne Kramer (April 30, 1948 – February 2, 2024), a dear friend and activist partner of our company. We are holding his wife Margaret and son Francis in our hearts and sending love to all who cared about him.

Thank you, Wayne, for all your partnership and all your work for a more just world.

Dr. Bronner’s connected with Wayne and Margaret Kramer in 2016 when we were preparing to launch Sisters & Brothers, a record featuring historic recordings of Dr. Bronner’s founder Emanuel Bronner. Like Emanuel, Wayne was an influence in the counterculture generation of the 60s and 70s, the period when our soaps and the All-One message began to resonate and gain mass appeal. It was a natural fit to use this record to raise money for Wayne’s organization that provides prisoners with instruments and access to music education and programming while behind bars.

wayne kramer
Photo Credit: Leni Sinclair / Michael Ochs Archive / Getty

Wayne was a renowned guitarist, social justice and prison reform activist, and the co-founder of the MC5, the Detroit proto-punk band that has been cited as a legendary influence by musicians spanning generations, from The Clash to Rage Against the Machine.

Wayne used his music industry contacts to help us organize a powerful launch event for the record in 2017. Since then, Dr. Bronner’s has partnered with Wayne on several projects. He generously composed music for our short documentary Journey to Pavitramenthe which tells the story of our fair trade mint sourcing in India.

Dr. Bronner’s & Jail Guitar Doors on Fox5 San Diego (Featuring Wayne Kramer) from Movement Media.

Known as “Brother Wayne” to his bandmates and friends, his life and career have taken on almost mythical status, from the MC5 being the only musical act to follow through on its commitment to play at historic anti-Vietnam War protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago to becoming a student and friend of renowned jazz trumpeter Red Rodney while both were incarcerated in Kentucky.

An early target of the drug war, Wayne spent four years in prison in the 1970’s. This had a profound impact on his life and inspired him along with his wife Margaret and musician Billy Bragg to start the organization Jail Guitar Doors USA in 2009. Bragg had founded Jail Guitar Doors UK in 2007 to honor the life of Clash founder Joe Strummer. Jail Guitar Doors is the name of a song that the Clash released in 1978 about Wayne and his time in prison.

Using the medium of collaborative arts— namely the idea that the music is something everyone can benefit from—Jail Guitar Doors strives to achieve measurable rehabilitative outcomes and advance new solutions to diminish prison violence. The organization provides musical instruments and mentorship to help rehabilitate individuals experiencing incarceration through the transformative power of songwriting and musical expression. Employing their “Creative Expressions Songwriting Workshop,” every institution they serve receives new musical instruments for the participants to learn, play and rehearse with during instructional time. Jail Guitar Doors USA has distributed guitars and taught music in more than 200 correctional institutions in the United States.

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Photo Credit: Jail Guitar Doors / Instagram

While the programs in adult prisons have been the core focus of the organization, with the support of Dr. Bronner’s in 2021, Jail Guitar Doors opened the Community Arts Programming & Outreach (CAPO) Center, which houses a state-of-the-art recording studio—named the All-One Studio, a computer learning lab, and a workshop and event space in Hollywood, CA. The CAPO Center aims to provide a supportive, creative community and work toward pathways to meaningful employment for young people and recently returned residents.

Dr. Bronner’s has supported Jail Guitar Doors since 2017 to help expand the reach of their programs in prisons across the country as well as with the creation of the CAPO Center in downtown Los Angeles. To-date, Dr. Bronner’s has donated a total of $695,000 to Jail Guitar Doors. We will be supporting Jail Guitar Doors again in 2024. We urge anyone moved by Wayne, his life, and his music, to also make a donation to Jail Guitar Doors to ensure their important work continues.

wayne kramer Mike Bronner, Wayne Kramer & David Bronner

“Wayne was a friend and an inspiration. Throughout his life, he never stopped believing in and doing everything he could to advance both the potential of music as a revolutionary force, and the potential of humanity to overcome and be better.”–Michael Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s

“Thank you, Wayne, for being such a champion for justice.” –David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s

Rest in Peace & Power, Brother Wayne Kramer.

Author Profile

Ryan Fletcher

Ryan Fletcher is Dr. Bronner’s Director of Public Relations and leads the company’s animal advocacy and international philanthropy programs. Ryan has worked with Dr. Bronner’s since 2006.

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