An innovator on Rock’s rugged side JOHN KAY & STEPPENWOLF
One of the greatest rock rebel anthems of the sixties was John Kay and Steppenwolf's iconic hit "BORN TO BE WILD," that gave the world the term: Heavy Metal. The thunder and adventure they were looking for continues when John Kay and Steppenwulf perform one show only at Arena Theatre, Houston's legendary theatre in the round on May 7. An innovator on Rock’s rugged side, John Kay brought us seven Top 40 rock classics, including “MAGIC CARPET RIDE” and “ROCK ME.” With over 20 million records sold and 28 albums to his credit, his hits have been featured in 27 motion pictures and 29 TV programs.
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.
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," says founder John Kay. "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. During a period of retirement, prior members tried to co-opt the name, and Kay had to fight to reclaim his legacy and begin the adventure again.
"That was a real ego adjustment, and a real test-do you want to do this badly enough to rebuild this thing from the ground up?," Kay admits. "But it showed me that there were people out there who still felt a deep connection to Steppenwolf." Indeed, it put Kay and company back in touch with a large and loyal fan base-as well as an influx of younger listeners responsive to band's enduring appeal-that has kept Steppenwolf rolling ever since. "There's a lot of truth in that old cliché about whatever doesn't kill you making you stronger," Kay concludes. "Looking back, I realize that it's the struggles that have taught us how to gain our independence and live the rock 'n' roll of life on our own terms."