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Goldy McJohn (1945–2017)

by Legacy Staff

Steppenwolf keyboardist played on “Born To Be Wild,” “Magic Carpet Ride.”

Steppenwolf founding member Goldy McJohn, whose distinctive keyboards stood out in hits such as “Born To Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride,” died Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, of a heart attack, according to The Canadian Press. He was 72.

Born John Raymond Goadsby May 2, 1945, in Toronto, he was known best publicly by the stage name he adopted in 1965. Following stints in a number of Toronto-based bands in the 1960s, McJohn formed Steppenwolf in 1967 with two bandmates from the Sparrows, singer John Kay and drummer Jerry Edmonton, as well as two Americans, guitarist Michael Monarch and bassist Rushton Moreve.


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McJohn’s use of a Hammond B3 electric organ in a hard-rock setting became a signature part of Steppenwolf’s sound, and the group found widespread success with 1968’s “Born To Be Wild,” which was featured in the movie “Easy Rider” and went on to sell more than 1 million copies. Also featured in the film was Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher,” a song penned by the folk singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton.

The band followed up with more hits, notably 1968’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and 1969’s “Rock Me.” Both were top-10 tracks in the U.S. along with “Born To Be Wild.”

Following a Steppenwolf breakup in 1972, McJohn formed Manbeast along with fellow Steppenwolf alum Edmonton. Steppenwolf re-formed in 1974; McJohn left the group in 1975 but rejoined again from 1977 to 1980. In the decades that followed, McJohn released several solo albums and performed with revival bands. When not onstage, he enjoyed playing golf.

McJohn is survived by his wife, Sonja.

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