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Steppenwolf to Celebrate Their 50th Anniversary This Saturday at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium

by VVN Music

Later this year, Steppenwolf celebrates the 50th anniversary of their forming in Toronto, Canada, but the band decided that they should celebrate this Saturday (August 5) at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

John Kay has been the one constant over the life of the band.  Growing up in Hanover, West Germany, he was greatly influenced by the rock and roll he heard on the radio.  In 1958, when he was a teenager, his parents moved to Toronto and Kay learned about all types of music and to speak English listening to long distance AM radio stations.

During the mid-60's, Kay was part of a band called The Sparrow and, in 1967, at the suggestion an ABC Dunhill producer, he took two of his bandmates, Jerry Edmonton and Gordy McJohn, added Michael Monarch and Rushton Moreve, and formed Steppenwolf.

The band's self-titled debut album was released in December 1967 and slowly climbed the charts until, in mid-1968, the single Born to Be Wild took off, hitting number 2 on the Hot 100.

Their second album included their second big hit, Magic Carpet Ride, which went to number 3. Steppenwolf had established itself as a band that could appeal to both top 40 radio listeners and those that were into more progressive music.

Their third and final time to the top ten was in early-1969 with Rock Me but many more of their songs have gone on to become classics including Move Over, The Pusher, Monster and Hey Lawdy Mama.

The band broke up in 1972 but, since that time, have had a few reunions including one in 1980 that continues to this day. The did do a "farewell concert" in 2007 but, obviously, it didn't take.

The current members of the band are Kay, Danny Johnson who joined in 1996, Michael Wilk who has been with them since 1982, Gary Link (1982 to 1984, 2009 to today) and Ron Hurst (1984).