Discover more from Hippy Toons
Steppenwolf is a legendary rock band with a rich and influential history.
Formed in 1967, the band played a pivotal role in the development of the hard rock and heavy metal genres, and they are best known for their iconic hit "Born to Be Wild." Here's a detailed history of Steppenwolf:
Formation and Early Years (1967-1968):
Steppenwolf was formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1967 by Canadian-born singer and songwriter John Kay. Kay had previously been a member of the Canadian band The Sparrows and moved to California to form a new group. The initial lineup included John Kay (vocals and guitar), Michael Monarch (guitar), Goldy McJohn (keyboards), Rushton Moreve (bass), and Jerry Edmonton (drums). The band took its name from Hermann Hesse's novel "Steppenwolf," which was popular at the time.
Their self-titled debut album, "Steppenwolf," was released in 1968 and featured the hit single "Born to Be Wild." This song, often considered the first heavy metal track, became the band's signature anthem. The album also included tracks like "The Pusher" and "Sookie, Sookie," which showcased the band's bluesy, hard-rock sound.
Early Success and Departures (1968-1969):
In 1968, Steppenwolf released their second album, "The Second," which featured the hit "Magic Carpet Ride." The band's sound continued to evolve, incorporating elements of psychedelia and heavy rock. However, tensions within the band led to the departure of bassist Rushton Moreve.
In 1969, the band released "At Your Birthday Party," which included the hit "Rock Me." Nick St. Nicholas replaced Moreve on bass. This album marked a transitional period for the band as they experimented with different musical styles.
Changing Lineup and Musical Direction (1969-1971):
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw numerous lineup changes within Steppenwolf, with various members coming and going. Michael Monarch left the band, and Larry Byrom took over on guitar. Goldy McJohn also departed, and he was replaced by George Biondo.
The band's sound shifted towards a more country and folk-rock influenced style, which is evident in albums like "Monster" (1969) and "Steppenwolf 7" (1970). Although they had some success with songs like "Monster/Suicide/America" and "Hey Lawdy Mama," these albums were not as commercially successful as their earlier work.
Later Years and Resurgence (1971-1976):
Steppenwolf continued to release albums through the early 1970s, including "For Ladies Only" (1971), "Slow Flux" (1974), and "Hour of the Wolf" (1975). These albums saw a return to a harder rock sound, and tracks like "Straight Shootin' Woman" and "Screaming Night Hog" garnered some attention.
The band disbanded in 1976, and John Kay began a solo career. However, he soon reformed Steppenwolf with a new lineup in 1980.
Reunion and Continuing Legacy (1980-Present):
The reformed Steppenwolf achieved renewed success in the 1980s with albums like "Wolftracks" (1982) and "Rock & Roll Rebels" (1987). The classic lineup of John Kay, Michael Monarch, Goldy McJohn, and Jerry Edmonton briefly reunited for a tour in 1980 but disbanded again afterward.
Steppenwolf, led by John Kay, continued to tour and release albums over the years, with various lineup changes. The band's music remained popular in films and television, and "Born to Be Wild" became an enduring rock anthem.
Despite various personnel changes and ups and downs, Steppenwolf remains a beloved and influential rock band that played a significant role in the development of hard rock and heavy metal music. Their hit songs continue to be celebrated, and their legacy lives on through their music.