December 7, 2004

SJP


Artist: Steppenwolf




John Kay (vocals)
Goldy McJohn (keyboards)
Jerry Edmonton [nee McCrohan] (drums)
Michael Monarch (guitar)
Rushton Moreve (bass)
John Russell Morgan (bass; replaced Moreve)
Nick St. Nicholas (bass; replaced Morgan 1968)
George Biondo (bass; replaced St. Nicholas 1970)
Larry Byrom (guitar; replaced Monarch 1969)
Kent Henry (guitar; replaced Byrom)
Bobby Cochran (guitar; replaced Henry 1974)

One of the most loved American acts, like The Band, were actually Canadian. At least 4/5ths were. Singer John Kay arrived in Toronto with his family (mother and stepfather) in March 1958. He lived in Toronto's High Park region initially before moving to Humberside. After attending sight-saving classes at Deer Park Elementary School run by the CNIB he went to Humberside Collegiate where he graduated from high school in 1963. The family then moved to Buffalo in 1963 but John kept coming back to Toronto hanging out in Yorkville before heading to LA in 1964. He returned to Toronto in the summer of 1965 and lived in Yorkville, regularly playing the Half Beat Club. It was then that he met up with Nick St. Nickolaus (Klaus Kasbaum) and joined The Sparrows (who were regulars at the Devil's Den club).

The Sparrow had moved from Oshawa to Toronto in late 1964 without its previous lead singer Jack London. Kay himself never lived in Oshawa but the group rehearsed in McCrohan (Edmonton's) garage after Kay and McJohn joined in the fall of 1965. The band, now called Sparrow, did some recordings with Kay in the lineup in Toronto before they headed off to New York in the spring of 1966 to cut 'Tomorrow's Ship'. Kay, meanwhile moved, to L.A.

By 1967, The Sparrow had run its course and Kay was back in Los Angeles, where ABC-Dunhill Records staff producer Gabriel Mekler encouraged him to form a new group to record for his label. Towards that end, the singer reenlisted two old Sparrow bandmates, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldy McJohn, and recruited 17-year-old guitar prodigy Michael Monarch and bassist Rushton Moreve. The new outfit was christened Steppenwolf, after Hermann Hesse's mystical novel of the same name.

Steppenwolf's self-titled 1968 debut album introduced the band's tough, blues-rooted sound, a penchant for topical lyrics and the gritty growl of Kay. The single "Born to Be Wild" (written by ex-Sparrow member Dennis Edmonton -- aka Mars Bonfire) became Steppenwolf's first major hit, and was subsequently featured, along with Steppenwolf's recording of the Hoyt Axton anti-hard-drug composition "The Pusher", in the seminal '60s film 'Easy Rider'.

The band's career momentum and musical progression continued with such best-selling albums as 'Steppenwolf The Second' (which yielded another Top Five classic in "Magic Carpet Ride"), 'At Your Birthday Party' (which spawned the Top Ten hit "Rock Me"), the ambitiously conceptual 'Monster' (whose politically provocative title track became a surprise hit), 'Steppenwolf Live' (which featured studio single "Hey Lawdy Mama"), 'Steppenwolf 7' and 'For Ladies Only'. Along the way, various members came and went, with bassist Moreve leaving in late 1968; he was initially replaced by former Sparrow member Nick St. Nicholas, before being supplanted in early 1970 by George Biondo. Guitarist Monarch exited in 1969, replaced first by Larry Byrom and subsequently by Kent Henry.

Steppenwolf's popularity continued into the early 1970s. But, burned out from the endless album/tour grind, the quintet officially disbanded on Valentine's Day 1972. Kay then released a pair of critically acclaimed solo albums, 'Forgotten Songs And Unsung Heroes' and 'My Sportin' Life', which found him exploring new musical and lyrical territory.

Following Steppenwolf's highly successful 1974 European "farewell" tour, Kay reformed the band with Jerry Edmonton, Goldy McJohn, George Biondo and new guitarist Bobby Cochran. The group recorded three more albums: 'Slow Flux' (which yielded the Top 20 hit "Straight Shootin' Woman"), 'Hour Of The Wolf', and 'Skullduggery' for the Epic-distributed Mums label, before folding again in 1976. Kay then signed with Mercury Records and relaunched his solo career with 1978's well-received 'All In Good Time'.

It was around this time that Kay learned that two of his former bandmates were touring with a bogus Steppenwolf. The notion of the fake band playing tarnishing the band's legacy and name motivated Kay and Steppenwolf co-founder Jerry Edmonton (who by then had retired from music in favor of a career in photography) to take steps to establish their legal claim to the band name.

In 1980 Kay launched an all-new lineup, now billed as John Kay And Steppenwolf, virtually starting from scratch to restore his band's good name. The new group spent the next several years working a punishing touring regimen, playing anywhere and everywhere it could to rebuild Steppenwolf's reputation. By 1987 the band hadn't conquered the Top 40, but had re-established themselves with a devout following.

Since then, John Kay And Steppenwolf which now includes longtime members Michael Wilk (keyboards/bass) and Ron Hurst (drums) and relatively recent addition Danny Johnson (guitar) have released seven albums and maintained a busy international touring schedule that keeps the band on the road for several months per year. The band also hosts Wolf Fest, an annual weekend-long festival that draws fans from around the world to the band's adopted home base in Tennessee.

In 1994, on the eve of Steppenwolf's 25th anniversary, Kay returned to the former East Germany for a triumphant series of Steppenwolf concerts; that trip reunited him with friends and relatives he had not seen since his early childhood. The same year, Kay published his autobiography, "Magic Carpet Ride".

Today's Steppenwolf, operating without major-label financing, is the model of a successful cyber-age cottage industry. The band's self-contained operation incorporates an in-house 24-track digital recording studio, as well as an extensive website that serves as clubhouse for fans around the world. The website also functions as an outlet for Steppenwolf music, allowing fans easy access to the group's recent work, as well as CD reissues of the entire Steppenwolf and John Kay album catalogue. The band continues to generate vital new music, with a number of recording projects in the works, including the recent John Kay solo effort, 'Heretics And Privateers'.

Steppenwolf's dramatic and sometimes turbulent history recently became the subject of an episode of VH-1's documentary series Behind the Music. That much-talked-about broadcast underlined the band's ongoing stature and influence, but John Kay, now in his fourth decade with Steppenwolf, remains focused firmly on the future.

with notes from John Einarson and John Kay.


Singles
1967 A Girl I Knew/The Ostrich (ABC-Dunhill) 4019
1968 Sookie Sookie/Take What You Need (ABC-Dunhill) 4123
1968 Born To Be Wild/Everybody's Next One (ABC-Dunhill) 4138
1968 Magic Carpet Ride/Sookie Sookie (ABC-Dunhill) 4161
1969 Rock Me/Jupiter Child (ABC-Dunhill) 4182
1969 It's Never Too Late/Happy Birthday (ABC-Dunhill) 4192
1969 Move Over/Power Play (ABC-Dunhill) 4205
1969 Monster/Berry Rides Again (ABC-Dunhill) 4221
1970 Hey Lawdy Mama/Twisted (ABC-Dunhill) 4234
1970 Screaming Night Hog/Spiritual Fantasy (ABC-Dunhill) 4248
1970 Who Needs Ya/ (ABC-Dunhill) 4261
1971 Snow Blind Friend/Hippo Stomp (ABC-Dunhill) 4269
1971 Ride With Me/For Madmen Only (ABC-Dunhill) 4283
1971 For Ladies Only/Sparkles Eyes (ABC-Dunhill) 4292
1974 Straight Shootin' Woman/ (Mums/Epic) 6031
1974 Get Into The Wind/ (Mums/Epic) ZS-86034

Albums
1968 Steppenwolf (ABC-Dunhill) 50029
1968 Steppenwolf The Second (ABC-Dunhill) 50037
1968 At Your Birthday Party (ABC-Dunhill) DSX-50053
1969 Early Steppenwolf (ABC-Dunhill) DS-50060
1969 Monster (ABC-Dunhill) DS50066
1970 Steppenwolf Live (ABC-Dunhill) DSD-50075
1970 Steppenwolf 7 (ABC-Dunhill) DSX-50090
1971 Steppenwolf Gold (ABC-Dunhill) SX-50099
1971 For Ladies Only (ABC-Dunhill) DSX-50110
1972 Rest In Peace (ABC-Dunhill) DSX-50124
1973 16 Greatest Hits (ABC-Dunhill) DSX-50135
1974 Slow Flux (Mums/Epic) PZ-33093
1975 16 Great Performances (ABC) ABCD-4011
1975 Hour Of The Wolf (Epic) PE-33583
1976 Skullduggery (Epic) PE-34120
1976 The ABC Collection (ABC) AC-30008
1976 Reborn To Be Wild (Epic) PE-34382

as JOHN KAY AND STEPPENWOLF
1981 Live In London (Mercury/Polygram - Australia) 6437147
1982 Wolftracks (Attic/Wolf) LAT-1145
1984 Paradox (Attic/Wolf) LAT-1191
1987 Rock 'N' Roll Rebels (Qwil) NU-1560
1990 Rise & Shine (IRS) IRSD-82046
1991 Born To Be Wild: A Retrospective (MCA) MCAD2-10389
1995 Live At 25 (ERA) 5030
1996 Feed The Fire (Winter Harvest) WH3310-2
1998 Wolftracks (Nautilus/Attic) 1998 Paradox [CD re-issue] (Attic/Wolf) LAT-1191
1998 Rise & Shine [CD re-issue] (IRS) IRSD-82046

as JOHN KAY AND SPARROW
1967 John Kay & Sparrow (Columbia) CS-9758
1993 The Best Of... (Columbia/Legacy) CK-50344

Video


Compilation Tracks
1975 "Straight Shootin' Woman" on 'Canada Gold - 22 Karat Hits' (K-Tel) TC-225




Official Steppenwolf Website
Official Goldy McJohn Website

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