Steppenwolf

Canadian Classic Rock
Biography

Steppenwolf

John Kay

 

It's ironic that the group most assosciated with shaping the American music scene for an entire generation actually hailed from Canada. The son of a serviceman, John Kay was born in Germany and grew up listening to the armed forces radio network. Influenced by the likes of Elvis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, he moved to Toronto in 19?? at the age of 14. An early disciple of the blues, he cut his chops playing the local coffee shops while still a teen and set out on his own travelling across the continent, playing small blues venues shortly after graduating from high school.

Upon returning to Ontario in '65, he formed a band with some local musicians from Yorkville called Sparrow. They released their self-titled debut with Columbia Records the next year as Jack London and The Sparrows and had the single "Hard Time With The Law". Less than a year later London's name was replaced by Kay's on the marquee and another self-titled record hit the stores. A fairly loyal following developed after the group moved to the New York area and had three singles on the airwaves over the course of a year. Disputes with the record company however spelled the end of the group less than a year and a half after the album's release.

Kay, along with Jerry Edmonton, his brother Dennis (who went by the name of Mars Bonfire), Goldy McJohn and Nick St. Nicholas re-emeged in late '67 in San Francisco as Steppenwolf. Their self-titled debut came out in '68 on MCA in the middle of flower power and is one of the most important records in rock history. Backed by the instant classic "Born To Be Wild", the overall psychadelic sound blended with a hard-driving road beat to instantly make Steppenwolf the spokesmen for North America's attitude during the late 60's through to the mid 70's. Other classics such as the Willie Dixon blues classic "Hoochie Koochie Man", "Sookie Sookie" and the Hoyt Axton-penned tune about the life of a drug dealer called "The Pusher" quickly turned the album gold.

The group came back the same year with STEPPENWOLF - THE SECOND. Supported by the smash "Magic Carpet Ride", and "It's Never Too Late", the closest thing they ever did to a ballad, the record stayed true to what would become their signature sound. AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY was released in '69 and despite it being their third record in barely a year and a half, it was soon certified gold behind the support of "Jupiter Child", "Rock Me Baby" and "It's Never Too Late". The group's first live record, EARLY STEPPENWOLF, six tracks taped in England came out that same year. Noteable is a version of "The Pusher" that takes up the entire second side of the album.

The band ushered in the '70's with MONSTER. Amid the turbulent turn of the decade, MONSTER contained the controversial "Fag", a diary of San Francisco's night life. Along with the title-track and "Draft Register", both commentaries about the Viet Nam War, MONSTER was certified gold that same year, just in time for the release of the double album, STEPPENWOLF LIVE. Recorded at various California venues on the MONSTER tour, it gave the group time to regroup, following nearly four years of constant touring. The lieu in the schedule also saw the release of their first greatest hits package, STEPPENWOLF GOLD. Released in '71, long before a 'best of' package had remixes and previously unreleased classics, it was the quintessential biker record and turned gold practically overnight.

The time off seemed to go by unnoticed when they came back with FOR LADIES ONLY in the summer of '72. Though it produced two singles, neither the title track or "Ride With Me" broke new ground. Despite more gold for the band, a new sound was emerging, and like it or not, bubblegum was going to stay for awhile. That same year also saw the release of REST IN PEACE. Instead of re-thinking their approach, another biker album that year seemed to almost over-stuff the market.

MCA released another greatest hits the next year while the group toiled in the studios. But while 16 GREAT PERFORMANCES fed a market already dominated by them, the release of SLOW FLUX the summer of '74 disappointed the critics, who by this time were jumping off the 'rebel ride' and on to the 'pansy express' ... hard to believe people actually listened to things like The DeFranco Family and The Osmonds ... my sister Laurie was usually good for musical influences, but she had her moments ... good thing Dennis and Dave were around ...

Yet another greatest hits package came out that year - this one called 16 GREAT PERFORMANCES - (same songs - different order - if you look on the discography page ... it's true ...)

HOUR OF THE WOLF hit the shelves in '75. The mid seventies were a time of change, no longer a time of rebellion as such. Without decent support from their label and no real expansion of sound, HOUR OF THE WOLF was in retrospect, the beginning of the downward spiral. Their second record in a row to fail to produce a single was released the next year in SKULLDUGGERY. The ABC COLLECTION released that same year was just another run of the mill, rather tedious except they were on vinyl and 8-tracks and needed to be replaced often. - (those too young to know what I'm talking about - - you're probably doing a report for history class or something - - consult your parents) greatest hits package. The group's status was in hiatus at this point and REBORN TO BE WILD was released in '77, a compilation of the second stage of the group's career.

Legal squabbles over the use of the Steppenwolf name ensued for the next few years. Emerging from the court room victorious and returning to the record stores came in '81 when John Kay won the right to use the name and released LIVE IN LONDON that year. Now free of the '60's lifestyle and now middle-aged, Kay's return album on MCA featured such classics as "Sookie Sookie", "Magic Carpet Ride" and of course "Born To Be Wild". Everything you'd expect really - but fact is it was a pinnacle album. It signalled Kay's return, and his apparent realization that though his msuic would alsways be stereotyped and his course had run, he was back clean and still able to please a crowd. More importantly, it signalled that even in England people in the '80's were still interested in Steppenwolf's message. Though the market was mostly the same people, just in smaller numbers, the niche was there.

WOLF TRACKS was the first released on Kay's new label, Wolf Records, distributed by Attic here in Canada, hitting the stores in '82. Though not a bad album, it displayed Kay's trademark vocals and the tour across England and North America showed he could still attract the crowds. noteable about the record is it contained a remake of the Argent classic, "Hold Your Head Up".

'84 saw the release of PARADOX. Interesting about this is it has a song called "The Fixer", sort of a "The Pusher - Part II" ..Poor sales however forced Kay into the background until he released '87's ROCK 'N ROLL REBELS. Again he dropped out of sight and Steppenwolf wasn't heard from again until - - you guessed it - - BORN TO BE WILD - A RETROSPECTIVE hit the stores in '91. Kay even released a compilation of his work with Sparrow two years later. FEED THE FIRE came out in '96 followed by '98's RISE AND SHINE. Needless to say neither album exactly made Shania worry about her album sales.

Though John Kay and Steppenwolf have a niche that for the most part grows smaller as time goes on, the fact he's still going and people still listen to their message spells legend in the language of rock and roll. I had the priveledge of seeing Steppenwolf live at K Days in '95 and was surprised to see the number of kids young enough to be Kay's grandchildren. And not because it was a free concert with admittance to the Exposition, but because they knew who they were listening to. Even the band was half Kay's age. But the name Steppenwolf was synonomous with an entire generation, and the attitudes and beliefs they held true. Most of those people either still buy his discs or see him live or have influenced their kids' tastes in music. Supply and demand even prompted Kay to agree to '98's first 'John Kay and Steppenwolf Weekend'. A weekend full of bikers, beer and rock and roll, it signifies the attitude at its best. Steppenwolf's sound paved the way for the modern grunge scene and although I still remember my brother's band wailing away to "Magic Carpet Ride" in the basement, his interpretation was in reality what Steppenwolf was meant to be, rebellion.

Steppenwolf
Michael Monarch - Rushton Moreve - Jerry Edmonton - John Kay - Goldy McJohn

Written by Dan Brisebois of
CanConRox


Discography

Candy Original Soundtrack
Candy Original Soundtrack (1968)

Child of the Universe
Birth by Descent
Opening Night: By Surgery
Spec-Rac-Tac-Para-Comm
Border Town Blues: A Blunt Instrument
Magic Carpet Ride
Constant Journey
Every Mother's Daughter
It's Always Because of This: A Deformity
Marlon and His Sacred Bird
Ascension to Birginity
Rock Me

Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (1968)

Sookie, Sookie
Everybody's Next One
Berry Rides Again
Hoochie Koochie Man
Born to Be Wild
Your Wall's Too High
Desperation
Pusher
Girl I Knew
Take What You Need
Ostrich

Steppenwolf the Second
Steppenwolf the Second (1968)

Faster Than the Speed of Life
Tighten up Your Wig
None of Your Doing
Spiritual Fantasy
Sam Don't Step on the Grass
28
Magic Carpet Ride
Disappointment Number (Unknown)
Lost and Found by Trial and Error
Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie
Resurrection
Reflections

At Your Birthday Party
At Your Birthday Party (1969)

Don't Cry
Chicken Wolf
Lovely Meter
Round and Down
It's Never Too Late
Sleeping Dreaming
Jupiter Child
She'll Be Better
Cat Killer
Rock Me
God Fearing Man
Mango Juice
Happy Birthday

Monster
Monster (1969)

Monster/Suicide/America
Draft Resister
Power Play
Move Over
Fag
What Would You Do (If I Did That to You)
From Here There Eventually

Early Steppenwolf
Early Steppenwolf (1969)

Power Play
Howlin' for My Darling
I'm Going Upstairs
Corina, Corina
Tighten up Your Wig
Pusher

Steppenwolf 7
Steppenwolf 7 (1970)

Ball Crusher
Forty Days and Forty Nights
Fat Jack
Renegade
Foggy Mental Breakdown
Snowblind Friend
Who Needs Ya?
Earschplittinloudenboomer
Hippo Stomp

Live Steppenwolf
Live Steppenwolf (1971)

Sookie, Sookie
Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
Tighten up Your Wig
Monster
Draft Resister
Power Play
Corina, Corina
Twisted
From Here to There Eventually
Hey Lawdy Mama
Magic Carpet Ride
Pusher
Born to Be Wild

For Ladies Only
For Ladies Only (1971)

For Ladies Only
I'm Asking
Shackles and Chains
Tenderness
Night Time's for You
Jaded Strumpet
Sparkle Eyes
Black Pit
Ride Home With Me
In Hopes of a Garden

Gold
Gold (1971)

Magic Carpet Ride
Pusher
Born to Be Wild
Sookie, Sookie
It's Never Too Late
Rock Me
Hey Lawdy Mama
Move Over
Who Needs You?
Jupiter Child
Screaming Night Hog

1967-1972 Rest in Peace
1967-1972 Rest in Peace (1972)

Ostrich
Your Wall's Too High
Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
Desperation
Renegade
Foggy Mental Breakdown
Hippo Stomp
Take What You Need
Everybody's Next One
None of Your Doing

16 Greatest Hits
16 Greatest Hits (1973)

Born to Be Wild
It's Never Too Late
Rock Me
Hey Lawdy Mama
Move Over
Who Needs Ya?
Snowblind Friend
Ride With Me
Magic Carpet Ride
Pusher
Sookie, Sookie
Jupiter's Child
Screaming Night Hog
For Ladies Only
Tenderness
Monster

Slow Flux
Slow Flux (1974)

Gang War Blues
Children of Night
Justice Don't Be Slow
Get into the Wind
Jeraboah
Straight Shootin' Woman
Smokey Factory Blues
Morning Blue
Fool's Fantasy
Fishin' in the Dark

Hour of the Wolf
Hour of the Wolf (1975)

Caroline (Are You Ready for the Outlaw World)
Annie, Annie Over
Two for the Love of One
Just for Tonight
Hard Rock Road
Someone Told a Lie
Another's Lifetime
Mr. Penny Pincher

Skullduggery
Skullduggery (1976)

Skullduggery
(I'm A) Road Runner
Rock & Roll Song
Train of Thought
Life Is a Gamble
Pass It On
Sleep
Lip Service

ABC Collection
ABC Collection (1976)

It's Never Too Late
The Pusher
Mover Over
Sookie Sookie
Desperation
Magic Carpet Ride
Born to be Wild
Snowblind Friend
Berry Rides Again
Monster
Hey Lawdy Mama
Rock Me

Reborn to Be Wild
Reborn to Be Wild (1977)

Straight Shootin' Woman
Hard Rock Road
Another's Lifetime
Mr. Penny Pincher
Smokey Factory Blues
Caroline (Are You Ready for the Outlaw World)
Get into the Wind
Gang War Blues
Children of Night
Skullduggery

Live in London
Live in London (1980)

Sookie Sookie
Give me some News I can use
You
Hot Night in a Cold Town
Ain't Nothin' Like it used to be
Magic Carpet Ride
Five Finger Discount
Hey Lawdy Mama
Business is Business
Born to be Wild
The Pusher

Wolftracks
Wolftracks (1982)

Time
None of the Above
You
Every Man for Himself
Five Finger Discount
Hold Your Head Up
Hot Night in a Cold Town
Down to Earth
For Rock-N-Roll
The Balance

Paradox
Paradox (1984)

Watch Your Innocence
Nothin' is Forever
You're the Only One
The Fixer
Give Me News I Can Use
Only The Strong Survive
Ain't Nothin' Like It Used To Be
Slender Thread Of Hope
Tell Me It's All Right
Circles Of Confusion

Magic Carpet Ride
Magic Carpet Ride (1985)

Magic Carpet Ride
Sookie, Sookie
Tighten up Your Wig
Faster Than the Speed of Life
Born to Be Wild
Hoochie Coochie Man
Berry Rides Again
Don't Step on the Grass, Man

Lone Steppenwolf
Lone Steppenwolf (1987)

Easy Evil
Walkin' Blues
Many a Mile
Drift Away
Sing With The Children
My Sportin' Life
You Win Again
I'm Movin' On
Nobody Lives Here Anymore
Somebody

Rock & Roll Rebels
Rock & Roll Rebels (1987)

Give Me Life
Rock & Roll Rebels
Hold on (Never Give up, Never Give In)
Man on a Mission
Everybody Knows You
Rock Steady (I'm Rough and Ready)
Replace the Face
Turn Out the Lights
(Give Me) News I Can Use
Rage

Rise & Shine
Rise & Shine (1990)

Let's do it All
Time Out
Do or Die
Rise and Shine
The Wall
The Daily Blues
Keep Rockin'
Rock 'N Roll War
Sign on the Line
We Like it, We Love it

Born to Be Wild: A Retrospective
Born to Be Wild: A Retrospective (1991)

Twisted (By the Sparrow)
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl [By the Sparrow]
Sookie, Sookie
Everybody's Next One
Born to Be Wild
You Wall's Too High
Desperation
Pusher
Ostrich
Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
Magic Carpet Ride
Rock Me
Jupiter's Child
It's Never Too Late
Monster/Suicide/America
More Over
Hey Lawdy Mama
Snowblind Friend
Who Needs Ya?
Screaming Night Hog
For Ladies Only [Edit]
Tenderness
I'm Movin' On [By John Kay]
My Sportin' Life
Children of the Night
Straight Shootin' Woman
Caroline
Live Your Life
Ain't Nothing Like It Used to Be
Born to Be Wild [Live]
Rock & Roll Rebels
Five Me News I Can Use
Wall

Born to Be Wild
Born to Be Wild (1992)

Born to Be Wild
Magic Carpet Ride
Rock Me
It's Never Too Late
Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
Monster
Hey Lawdy Mama
Screaming Night Hog
Who Needs Ya?
Snowblind Friend
Ride With Me
For Ladies Only
Pusher
Sookie, Sookie
Move Over
Hootchie Kootchie Man

Night Riding
Night Riding (1992)









Move Over
Move Over (19??)

Draft Resister
From Here To There Eventually
Monster
Ride With Me
Born To Be Wild
Move Over
Power Play
The Pusher

Best of
Best of (1993)

Twisted
Goin' To California
Square Headed People
Good Morning Little School Girl
Bright Lights Big City
Hoochie Coochie Man
The Pusher
King Pin
Goin' Upstairs
Baby Please Don't Go
Tomorrow's Ship
Isn't It Strange
Goin' To California
Twisted
Green Bottle Lover
Tighten Up Your Wig
Too Late
Can't Make Love By Yourself

Live at 25
Live at 25 (1995)

Move Over
Who Needs You
Rocket Ship
Rock Me
I'm Movin' On
Sookie Sookie
Sign On The Line
Hoochie Koochie
Let's Do It All
Hey Lawdy Mama
Do Or Die
Desperation
Hold On
Best Of What You Got
Ride With Me
Rock 'N Roll War
Snowblind Friend
Monster
Rise & Shine
Magic Carpet Ride
Born To Be Wild
The Pusher
Rock & Roll Rebels

Feed the Fire
Feed the Fire (1996)

Rock & Roll Rebels
Rock Steady (I'm Rough and Ready)
Hold on (Never Give up, Never Give In)
Everybody Knows You
(Give Me) News I Can Use
Replace the Face
Bad Attitude
Man on a Mission
Rage
Feed The Fire

Silver
Silver (1997)

Born to Be Wild
Magic Carpet Ride
Rock Me
Monster
Move Over
It's Never Too Late
Sookie, Sookie
Hey Lawdy Mama
Screaming Night Hog
Who Needs Ya?
Ride With Me
Snowblind Friend
For Ladies Only
Girl I Knew
Berry Rides Again
Take What You Need
Everybody's Next One
Jupiter's Child
Power Play
Happy Birthday
28
Pusher
Twisted
Down Goes Your Love Life
Chasin' Shadows
Desperation
Ostrish
Spirtual Fantasy
Tenderness
Children of the Night
Straight Shootin' Woman
Smokey Factory Blues
Caroline
All I Want Is All You Got
Ain't Nothing Like It Used to Be
Rock & Roll Rebels
Wall
I'm Movin' On
Live Your Life [#]

Very Best of Steppenwolf
Very Best of Steppenwolf (1997)

Born to Be Wild
Magic Carpet Ride
Renagade
Forty Days & Forty Nights
Hippo Stomp
Hey Lawdy Mama
Night Time's for You
Hootchie Kootchie Man
Rock Me
Ostrich
Happy Birthday
It's Never Too Late
Move Over
Monster/Suicide/America Medley
Draft Resister
Everybody's Next One
Girl I Knew
None of Your Doing

The Lost Heritage Tapes
The Lost Heritage Tapes (1997)

Down In New Orleans
Business Is Business
Captain Of Your Destiny
Live Your Life
Sweet Memories
Nothing But
Hey I'm Alright
Sound Of The Crowd
You've Had Your Fun
Hurricane Maryann

20th Century Masters
Best of Steppenwolf: 20th Century Masters (1999)

Born to Be Wild
Magic Carpet Ride
It's Never Too Late
Snowblind Friend
Hey Lawdy Mama
Ride With Me
Move Over
Who Needs Ya?
Pusher

Steppenwolf/Steppenwolf the Second
Steppenwolf/Steppenwolf the Second (1999)

Sookie, Sookie
Everybody's Next One
Berry Rides Again
Hootchie Kootchie Man
Born to Be Wild
Your Wall's Too High
Desperation
Pusher
Girl I Knew
Take What You Need
Ostrich
Faster Than the Speed of Life
Tighten up Your Wig
Spiritual Fantasy
Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
Magic Carpet Ride
Disappointment Number (Unknown)
Lost and Found by Trial and Error
Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie Resurrection
Refections
28
None of Your Doing

At Your Birthday Party/Seven
At Your Birthday Party/Seven (1999)

Don't Cry
Chicken Wolf
Lovely Meter
Round and Down
It's Never Too Late
Sleeping Dreaming
Jupiter Child
She'll Be Better
Cat Killer
Rock Me
God Fearing Man
Mango Juice
Happy Birthday
Ball Crusher
Forty Days and Forty Nights
Fat Jack
Renegade
Foggy Mental Breakdown
Snowblind Friend
Who Needs Ya?
Earschplittinloudenboomer
Hippo Stomp

All Time Greatest Hits
All Time Greatest Hits (1999)

Born to Be Wild
Magic Carpet Ride
Sookie, Sookie
Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
Pusher
Rock Me
It's Never Too Late
Jupiter's Child
Hey Lawdy Mama
Snowblind Friend
Move Over
Tenderness
Who Needs Ya?
Ride With Me
For Ladies Only
Screaming Night Hog
Monsters/Suicide/America
Straight Shootin' Woman

Greatest Hits and More Live
Greatest Hits and More Live (2000)

Move Over
Who Needs Ya
Rockets Ship
Rock Me
I'm Movin' On
Sookie Sookie
Sign on the Line
Hootchie Kootchie Man
Let's Do It All
Hey Lawdy Mama
Do or Die
Desperation
Hold On
Best of What You Got
Ride With Me
Rock 'N Roll War
Snowblind Friend
Monster
Rise and Shine
Magic Carpet Ride
Born to Be Wild
Pusher
Rock 'N Roll Rebels

Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes
Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes (2000)

Many a Mile
Walk Beside Me
You Win Again
To Be Alive
Bold Marauder
Two of a Kind
Walkin' Blues
Somebody
I'm Movin' on

My Sportin Life
My Sportin Life (2000)

Moonshine (Friend Of Mine)
Nobody Lives Here Anymore
Drift Away
Heroes And Devils
My Sportin' Life
Easy Devil
Giles Of The River
Dance To My Song
Sing With The Children

All in Good Time
All in Good Time (2000)

Give Me Some News I can Use
The Best Is Barely Good Enough
That's When I Think Of You
Ain't Nobody Home (In California)
Ain't Nothin' Like It Used To Be
Business Is Business
Show Me How You'd Like It Done
Down In New Orleans
Say You Will
Hey I'm Alright

Heretics & Privateers
Heretics & Privateers (2001)

Heretics & Privateers
Don't Waste My Time
Ain't That A Shame
Dodging Bullets
She's Got The Goods
For The Women In My Life
To Be Alive
I Will Not Be Denied
Endless Commercial
The Ice Age
Sleep With One Eye Open
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