Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf. Hard-rock group. It had its origins in the Toronto blues band Sparrow, which was formed in 1964 and by 1965 comprised John Kay (vocals, harmonica and guitar), Dennis Edmonton (guitar), Goldy McJohn (organ, piano), Nick St Nicholas (bass guitar), and Jerry Edmonton (drums).

Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf. Hard-rock group. It had its origins in the Toronto blues band Sparrow, which was formed in 1964 and by 1965 comprised John Kay (vocals, harmonica and guitar), Dennis Edmonton (guitar), Goldy McJohn (organ, piano), Nick St Nicholas (bass guitar), and Jerry Edmonton (drums). Sparrow worked 1964-6 in Yorkville (Toronto) coffeehouses, then appeared in New York and Los Angeles before settling in 1967 in San Francisco. There Dennis Edmonton undertook a solo career as Mars Bonfire, while Kay, Jerry Edmonton and McJohn established Steppenwolf. A succession of lead and bass guitarists, including St Nicholas 1969-70, completed the band, which played a tough, at times menacing style of music that was very much a product of its rebellious time.

One of the major rock bands of its day, Steppenwolf had million-selling singles in 1968 with Bonfire's 'Born to Be Wild' and Kay's 'Magic Carpet Ride'. 'Rock Me' and 'Move Over' were hits in 1969, as were 'Monster' and 'Hey Lawdy Mama' in 1970. The band made eight LPs for Dunhill 1967-72 (eg, Steppenwolf, DS-50029; The Second, DS-50037; Steppenwolf 'Live' 2-DS-50075) and others for Mums and Epic during a revival 1974-6. On his own 1972-4, Kay (b Joachim Krauledat, Tilsit, East Prussia - now Sovetsk, USSR - 12 Apr 1944) also recorded for Dunhill; his version of 'I'm Movin' On' (from Forgotten Heroes and Unsung Songs, D5X-50120) was popular in 1972.

As many as four bands were active as Steppenwolf in the late 1970s until Kay and Edmonton made legal claim to the name. Kay and others began touring in 1980 billed as John Kay and Steppenwolf, making many Canadian club and concert appearances throughout the decade. They had three LPs of new material released by Attic 1982-7 and one by IRS in 1990, and maintained only a passing connection with their late-1960s, counter-cultural legacy.


Further Reading

  • 'John Kay sings for unsung heroes,' Rolling Stone, 9 Nov 1972

    McGrath, Paul. 'There's only one Steppenwolf,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 17 Jun 1981

    'Sparrow,' EMC 1981