Steppenwolf - the band that gave the world heavy metal

All about the pioneers of heavy metal, the band Steppenwolf.

The band Steppenwolf: history of creation, members, greatest hits, breakup

In the 1960s. British invasion in music, having started quickly, it can be said to have reached its first peak. Dominance in both the English and foreign charts, above all in the American charts, did their job. For American artists, entry to the market and gaining popularity was closed, or at least looked like it, difficult.

Nevertheless, the emergence of the oceanic psychedelic rock on the Pacific coast (Los Angeles and San Francisco) was able to compete with the British. Further development of rock took place, although under the influence of British performers, but taking into account the peculiarities of the Pacific region. The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Blue Cheer, the Grateful Dead, and Frank Zappa's bands experimented very well with genres, mixing the rock and roll with mystical riffs and blues. The unusual sound was very appealing to the 60's audience and the musicians themselves, who could only rely on themselves to explore musical boundaries. And so did SteppenwolfThey are representatives of the psychedelic scene from Toronto, Canada. This article will talk about them.

Starting point

The prairie wolves' proto-team was a collective of The Sparrowformed in 1964 by guitarist John Kay, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldie McJohn. The Sparrow played blues-rock They even managed to release one single on the popular Columbia Records label, as well as to organize mini-tours in their homeland. But in Canada, unfortunately, the prospects were vague, so the young and promising musicians had to look for another place to launch a full-fledged career. And here Kay had a very interesting offer from a representative of Dunhill Records label. He took his fellow The Sparrow members with him and traveled to sunny San Franciscowhere Jefferson Airplane had already made a splash.

Steppenwolf Group
Steppenwolf Group

So, with the addition of two more members, a very young guitarist Michael Monarch and bassist Rushton Moriva, John Kay formed the final lineup of the band. The name of the new band was chosen by manager Gabriel Meckler, borrowing it from the novel by Hermann Hesse "Steppenwolf.". So, Steppenwolf could match the mysterious sound and play quite a . heavy music for its time.

"Born to be wild," or a creative breakthrough

In 1968 Steppenwolf released their debut LP under the same name. It was said that the album was recorded almost in a week, which is quite typical for rockers, but it is hard to explain how the record became popular if the material on it was so quickly put in order. Already in the band's debut album one can feel its distinctive sound: John Kay's rough and harsh voice with a low timbre blended very well with the heavy blues-rock that had its origins in The Sparrow. At the same time, the somewhat fierce music was combined with very elaborate lyrics about topical issues. problems 1960-х. It is because of these features of his work Steppenwolf they've made a name for themselves in America.

The key track that perfectly emphasizes the newness of Steppenwolf's sound is called "Born to Be Wild". A really powerful, heavy song with a bright rhythmic base, immediately became a calling card of the Californian rockers. Some critics note that the song is even something like proto-metal and is clearly a representative of the genre of not blues but hard rock.

"I love smoke and lightning,
Heavy Metal Thunderclaps.
Chasing the wind.
And feel what I'm experiencing...," the song sings.

As you can see, the song contains the line "Heavy metal thunder.". It was in "Born to Be Wild" that there was the first mention of this combination, which would later become iconic and name a new genre-music. So it's kind of a credit to that Steppenwolf. They were excellent at pushing the boundaries of rock music thanks to listening to John Kay, thus creating new styles. A pleasant bonus for the musicians was a commercial achievement - the song took 2nd place in the Billboard Hot 100.

Biker idols

Cult "Born to Be Wild" was finally established after it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie "Easy Rider" ("Easy Rider."). The road-movie about a biker was very much liked by the representatives of this iconic "profession". Along with "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las and another song included in the soundtrack of the movie - "Ballad of Easy Rider" by Roger McGuinn, "Born to Be Wild" became a kind of biker anthem and still is.

Steppenwolf's other hits are less firmly embedded in the history of hard rock. But even among them one can single out the genre-defining stuff. "Magic Carpet Ride" from the second album stayed in the high places for a very long time. Also "Rock Me." from the 3rd studio album was memorable for fans of the band: it reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

Sooner or later, the story comes to an end....

In the 1970s Steppenwolf's career went into the sunset. Significant hits stopped appearing on CDs, and new experiments were not appreciated by the band's fans. In 1972, the band members made the decision to quit the band. cessation of the band's activities. Steppenwolf's farewell tour took place two years later, and John Kaye took up solo career.

John Kay and Steppenwolf
John Kay and Steppenwolf

In the 1980s, Steppenwolf had twin groupJohn Kay decided to reconstitute the band and began performing under the name of the heavy metal pioneers. In order to neutralize the situation, John Kay decided to recreate the band and began to perform under the name of John Kay and Steppenwolf. And now the permanent leader of the collective continues to please the remaining fans with tours, but already with other session musicians. Steppenwolf has turned into an ensemble, but their hits are by no means forgotten.


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