Just like a lot of folks that grew up in the '60s and early '70s, my first interests in music leaned more toward the hard-edged metal rock of the times. Some of the first records I bought with the money from my paper route were by the Doors, Mountain, Jefferson Airplane, and Steppenwolf. I grew up in the greater D.C. area, so the turbulence of that time was not just images on the evening news. It was a period of questioning the status quo. The music was charged with social commentary. It expressed the bewilderment my adolescent mind was wrestling with.
Perhaps it wasn't such a far jump when I started listening to the music of earlier eras. My sister and I spent summers with our cousins down the road where our Uncle Bill would have folk records spinning on his big Magnavox High-Fidelity stereo cabinet. Dust bowl ballads of Woodie Guthrie, the Irish protest songs of the Dubliners, I started to notice some of the same sentiments that were in the records I played on my Montgomery Ward 'Airline' turntable at home.
Of course the connection was there long before I put the two together. Many of the rockers had been influenced by the earlier folk and blues musicians. For me, the fire had been lit. The history and evolution of musical styles would become an obsession I've still got some forty years later.
Steppenwolf - Renegade
John Kay's autobiographical song. Born on the Baltic Coast behind the Iron Curtain, John Kay and his mother escaped after the death of his father. During their race across the border, one of John's friends was shot by the border guards. He and his mother emigrated to Canada and eventually to the U.S.
Steppenwolf - Snow Blind Friend
Written by Hoyt Axton. Legend has it that John Kay was working as a dishwasher at a club where Hoyt was playing one night. After hearing Hoyt play his song "The Pusher", John Kay said "If I ever have a band, I'm going to do that song". Years later, Hoyt Axton, his wife and new baby were broke and afraid they'd lose their Montana ranch when they received the royalty check for the use of Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" in the movie Easy Rider
John Kay - Many A Mile
From John Kay's solo lp "Forgotten Songs & Unsung Heroes"
John Kay - Walkin' Blues
Also from "Forgotten Songs & Unsung Heroes"
Forget the biker/doper image that comes to mind when you mention Steppenwolf. John Kay knows the blues. Go back and re-listen to your Steppenwolf albums. I know you still have them, and if you don't, go here
and get some.