Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate how the band called Steppenwolf, won their first gold record for the song called, “Born to be Wild,” on September 19th 1968.
Steppenwolf is a Canadian-American rock group, which was prominent from 1968 to 1972. The group was formed in late 1967 in Toronto by vocalist John Kay, keyboardist Goldy McJohn and drummer Jerry Edmonton. Guitarist Michael Monarch and bassist Rushton Moreve were recruited by notices placed in LA area record stores and musical instrument stores.
Where did the name Steppenwolf come from for the band?
The name change from (The Sparrow) to Steppenwolf suggested by two band members John Kay which was suggested by Gabriel Mekler, being inspired by Hermann Hesse’s novel of the same name.
Not familiar with the Hermann Hesse’s novel? No problem the novel was published by Hermann Hesse a German Swiss author, who published his ten novel entitled Steppenwolf, in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes.
Steppenwolf’s first two singles were “A Girl I Knew” and “Sookie Sookie”. The band finally rocketed to worldwide fame after their third single “Born to Be Wild” which was released on September 19th 1968.
Today’s YouTube video clip shared by user name (fritz51139) is the 1969 version of the band named Steppenwolf singing their infamous song called, “Born to be Wild,” which made its public debut on September 19th 1968.
The song called, “Born to be Wild,” made its movie debut in 1969 in the movie called “Easy Rider,” starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, along with newcomer Jack Nickelson.
Since then the song has always been associated with “Bikers” as a sort of the trademark theme song.
“Born to Be Wild” was written by Mars Bonfire (who also wrote several other songs for Steppenwolf) as a ballad. Bonfire was previously a member of the Sparrows, the predecessor band to Steppenwolf, and his brother was Steppenwolf’s drummer.
While they recorded over a dozen studio albums, only two of their songs are widely well known: “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride”.
Leader singer John Kay, never seen without sunglasses in part due to the fact that he has been legally blind since childhood, escaped from East Germany to West Germany with his war-widowed mother in 1948. Ten years later he immigrated to Canada with his mother and stepfather. A gym teacher who could not pronounce “Joachim” informally rechristened him John; several years later he adopted the Kay surname.
In 1963 Kay and his family moved to Buffalo, New York, then to Santa Monica, California, where Kay fell into the burgeoning folk-rock scene and appeared on his first record playing harmonica on a song called “The Frog.”
He played around the country as a folk singer, and in New York met Jerry Edmonton, of a popular Canadian group called the Sparrows, a group that included Bruce Palmer, who was later replaced by the bass player from Neil Young and Rick James’ group the Mynah Birds, Nick St. Nicholas.
In 1968 ABC-Dunhill producer Gabriel Mekler encouraged Kay to re-form the group and offered them studio time to make demos which where he met Jerry Edmonton’s brother Dennis (a.k.a. Mars Bonfire) offered the group a song he’d written for his solo album, “Born to Be Wild,” and the rest is history.
As we celebrate today’s day to remember how the recording artist Steppenwolf, won his first gold record for the song called, “Born to be Wild,” on September 19th 1968.