Goldy McJohn

Founding Father of Steppenwolf®

Goldy McJohn is a Legendary Iconic keyboard player best known as the original keyboardist for the group Steppenwolf. Originally a classically trained pianist, he was a pioneer in the early use of the electronic organ in rock music.

 

 

LONG LIVE ROCK AND ROLL ~ WE LOVE YOU GOLDY. YOUR ARE NOW #FOREVERWILD

GOLDY'S STORY ~ #FOREVER WILD #Steppenwolf, a Canadian-American rock band was prominent from 1968 to 1972. We formed the band in late 1961 in Toronto that included: vocalist John Kay, yours truly -keyboardist Goldy McJohn, and drummer Jerry Edmonton. Guitarist Michael Monarch and bassist Ruston Moreve  were recruited by notices placed in Los Angeles-area record and musical instrument stores. The essential core of Steppenwolf was John Kay, Jerry Edmonton, and yours truly ~ Goldy McJohn from The Sparrows (originally Jack London & the Sparrows from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada). Steppenwolf sold over 25 million records worldwide, releasing eight GOLD ALBUMS and 12 Billboard Hot 100 singles, of which six were top 40 hits, including three top 10 successes: Born to be Wild, written by Dennis Edmonton (using the stage name Mars Bonfire), Magic Carpet Ride and Rock Me. Steppenwolf enjoyed worldwide success from 1968 to 1972. Steppenwolf: (1967–1972) The name change from The Sparrows (The Sparrow) to Steppenwolf was suggested to John Kay by Gabriel Mekler, being inspired by Hermann Hesse's novel of the same name.

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", was released in 1968, as well as their version of Hoyt Axton's "The Pusher". Both of these tunes were used prominently in the 1969 counterculture cult film Easy Rider (both titles originally had been released on the band's debut album). In the movie, "The Pusher" accompanies a drug deal, and Peter Fonda stuffing dollar bills into his Stars and Stripes-clad fuel tank, after which "Born to Be Wild" is heard in the opening credits, with Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding their Harley Choppers through the #America of the late 1960s. The song, which has been closely associated with motorcylces ever since, introduced to rock lyrics the signature term Heavy Metal (though not about a kind of music, but about a motorcycle: "I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder, racin' with the wind..."). Written by Sparrow guitarist Dennis Edmonton, who had begun using the pen name Mars Bonfire and inspired by a billboard roadside advertisement Bonfire liked which depicted a motorcycle tearing through the billboard artwork, the song had already reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1968. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In 1968, Steppenwolf played one of their biggest shows up to that time at the #FilmoreEast to rave reviews, sharing the bill with Buddy Rich and Children of God.

The group's following albums had several more hit singles, including "Magic Carpet Ride" (which reached number three) from Steppenwolf The Second and "Rock Me" (with its bridge lasting 1:06, which reached number 10) from At Your Birthday Party. It also sold in excess of a million units. Monster, which questioned US policy of the Nixon era, was the band's most political album. Following the Monster album from 1969, the following year, the band released what some who consider their strongest album, Steppenwolf 7, which included the song "Snowblind Friend", another Hoyt Axton-penned song about the era and attitudes of drugs and associated problems. The band lineup reached its peak in the opinion of most fans with this album and their live performances in the middle of 1970 with John Kay, Jerry Edmonton, Goldy McJohn, Larry Byrom, and George Biondo. Unfortunately, this lineup was also unable to remain together, as Byrom became upset with McJohn over personal issues and quit the band in the early part of 1971.

Several changes in the group's personnel were made after the first few years. Moreve was fired from the group in 1968 for missing gigs after he became afraid to return to Los Angeles, convinced by his girlfriend that it was going to be leveled by an earthquake and fall into the sea. Rob Black briefly filled in for Moreve until former Sparrow bandmate Nick St. Nicholas came aboard in the latter months of 1968. Monarch quit the group in August 1969 as his relationship with Kay deteriorated. Larry Byrom, who had been in TIME with Nick St. Nicholas, ably replaced Monarch. Nick St. Nicholas was let go in mid-1970. He had appeared in nothing but rabbit ears and a jock strap at the Fillmore East in April '69, and his habit of wearing muumuus and kaftans on stage began to wear on Kay, whose penchant for leather vests and pants was more in line with the image he wanted for the band. George Biondo was then recruited, and guitarist Kent Henry replaced Byrom in early 1971. In November 1971, the band released For Ladies Only, with the lineup consisting of Kay, Henry, Biondo, McJohn, and Edmonton. The album was notable for several reasons, most notably the controversial LP inside cover art, the romantic, political, and social lyrical content, and the fact that it featured several of the group members on lead vocals. The band broke up after a farewell concert in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day, 1972. Kay went on to a brief solo career, scoring a minor solo hit in 1972 with "I'm Movin' On" from his album Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes. Although it received generally high marks from most critics, the album sales were disappointing in the US. Kay released a second solo album in 1973 on the Dunhill label titled My Sportin' Life. This album sold less than his first solo album and was less gritty and more LA studio-polish in sound.

Following the first official breakup of Steppenwolf, and after the release of Kay's first solo album, a late summer and autumn 1972 tour in the USA and Europe occurred which featured Kay heading both the John Kay Band and Steppenwolf at the top the bill. Dunhill had released an album of a collection of Steppenwolf songs titled Steppenwolf: RIP. Thus, the tour was known as the RIP tour. The John Kay Band included Hugh Sullivan on keyboards and Whitey (Pentti) Glan on drums (both were contributors to John Kay's first solo album). Kent Henry on lead and slide guitar and George Biondo on bass joined Kay in both lineups. The Steppenwolf band lineup featured Goldy McJohn on keyboards and Jerry Edmonton on drums. This tour proved to be a fairly positive experience for all of the musicians and drew respectable crowd turnouts. Following this tour, while Kay was recording his second solo album in 1973, McJohn and Edmonton continued to play and formed a band called Manbeast. Some of the material created in the Manbeast days showed up on the 1974 Steppenwolf reunion album, most notably "Gang War Blues", which was recorded as a demo with Edmonton singing slightly different lyrics.

Reunion (1974–1976)

Steppenwolf reformed in 1974 with its core lineup of Kay, Edmonton, and McJohn, along with longtime bassist Biondo and newcomer Bobby Cochran, Eddie Cochran's nephew, on lead guitar. The band signed with Mums Records in retaliation for what Kay perceived as a lack of support by Dunhill Records for his solo albums. Their first reunion album was Slow Flux, which included their last top 40 hit, "Straight Shootin' Woman". In February 1975, McJohn was dismissed for what Kay described as a decline in the quality of his performances, as well as erratic behavior. McJohn was replaced by Andy Chapin on Hour of the Wolf in 1975, though McJohn appeared in artwork for the single to Caroline. After the album peaked at number 155, Kay attempted to dissolve the band again, but the label, now having been absorbed by Epic Records, insisted Steppenwolf record one more album to satisfy their contractual obligations. The ensuing album, Skullduggery (1976), featuring Wayne Cook on keyboards, was released without a tour to support it, and by the early fall of 1976, Steppenwolf disbanded a second time. Kay appeared in a segment of the popular music TV show The Midnight Special to announce the end of Steppenwolf and also played a solo version of the song "Hey I'm Alright". This song appeared on Kay's third solo album All In Good Time, released on Mercury Records in 1978.

New Steppenwolf (1977–1980)

From 1977 until 1980, Steppenwolf had retired and did not exist. However, a variety of bands featuring some previous members of Steppenwolf were put on the road under the false name Steppenwolf by concert promoter Steve Green. Another promoter, David Pesnell, reportedly acted as manager for an incarnation featuring former members Nick St. Nicholas, Goldy McJohn, and Kent Henry, and new lead singer, Tom Pagan. Plans for a new album circulated. A new studio album, produced by Phil Spector, with Larry Green on lead vocals, was attempted in 1978, but abandoned due to Pesnell and Spector's hateful relationship. 

John Kay and Steppenwolf (1980–present) Kay and Steppenwolf performing in Lillehammer, Norway, May 26, 2007

As the band was named after the novel Der Steppenwolf by German author Hermann Hesse, who was born in the Black Forest town of Calw, the city invited them to come over and play in the International Hermann-Hesse-Festival 2002, along with other bands inspired by Hesse, such as Anyone's Daughter. The concert drew considerable media coverage, with Kay's fluent German stunning those who did not know beforehand about his growing up in Germany – in fact, he was born Joachim Fritz Krauledat in Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany (now Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia).

A 2007 newsletter from Kay's Wolfpack fanclub stated some remastering would be done of the band's albums throughout 2007 and 2008. Since the group's official retirement, they have continued to play a limited number of shows each year.

Nearly fifty years later, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominee. Thank you everyone for helping us ROCK THE VOTE to INDUCT STEPPENWOLFinto the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME!  

STAY TUNED. The next chapter of my magic carpet ride has just gotten underway!  #SUPPORTLOCALMUSIC
#FOREVERWILD #BorntobeWild #UnitedWeRoll

GOLDY MCJOHN
FOUNDING FATHER of STEPPENWOLF®
#BorntobeWild
#FOREVERWILD
United We Roll