In the chaotic world of rock 'n' roll, in which the lifespan of most bands can be measured in terms of a few years or a few months, John Kay and STEPPENWOLF have emerged as one of rock's most enduring and respected bands, delivering hard-hitting, personally-charged music for more than three decades.
In the late 1960s, Steppenwolf embodied that era's social, political and philosophical restlessness, building an impressive body of edgy, uncompromising rock 'n' roll that retains its emotional resonance more than three decades after the band's formation. Such Steppenwolf standards as "Born to Be Wild," "Magic Carpet Ride," "Rock Me" and "Monster" stand amongst Rock's most indelible anthems.
Steppenwolf's aggressive image co-existed with a thoughtful lyrical stance that challenged mainstream values and counterculture platitudes alike. "That idea of speaking your mind in the lyrics is something I had picked up in the folk-music community, and from growing up in post-World War II Germany," Kay states. "We didn't see why you couldn't have music that worked on a gut level but still offered some food for thought."
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 and influence continued unabated into the early 1970s. But, burned out from the endless album/tour grind, the quintet officially disbanded on Valentine's Day 1972, a day that L.A. Mayor Sam Yorty officially designated as "Steppenwolf Day." 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, with rewarding results.
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 calling it a day once again in 1976. Kay then signed with Mercury Records and relaunched his solo career with 1978's well-received All In Good Time.
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 as a class act.
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-www.steppenwolf.com-that serves as a cyber-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.