Sinclair first made headlines in the late '60s and early '70s as founder of the White Panther Party, as manager of the radical rock group MC5, as a marijuana martyr sentenced to 10 years for possession of two joints (he served 29 months), and as the hero of a song by John Lennon. Nearly 61, Sinclair is spearheading an Amtrak-sponsored, two-month, 19-city tour behind Frogs. The tour, by rail, aims to re-create the migration of the blues from the Mississippi Delta to the upper Midwest.
"I'm always active," Sinclair says in his gravelly, impish voice. "Been active for 40 years, and I ain't stopping now. You heard me?" He laughs. "I've been busy all my life. I write liner notes."
A New Orleans blues disc jockey when he's not on the road, Sinclair says he wanted to do a reading at the Old Erie Street Bookstore in Cleveland, but its owner told him the place on East Ninth was closed, and "It's not worth the time. You got to go to a Borders now," Sinclair says. "It's like when you're in Detroit, you've got to go to the new stadium, because they're not playing at the old stadium. It's not your choice, but there it is."