John Kay (musician)

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John Kay
Kay performing at Lillehammer Rock Weekend, in Lillehammer, Oppland, Norway, 26 May 2007
Background information
Birth name Joachim Fritz Krauledat
Born (1944-04-12) 12 April 1944 (age 75)
Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany
Origin Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Genres Rock, hard rock,[1] psychedelic rock, heavy metal, blues, folk
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active 1964–present
Labels Dunhill, Mums, Epic, MCA, Mercury, Attic, Qwil, I.R.S., K-tel, Winter Harvest, CMC International, Cannonball, Rainman
Associated acts The Sparrows, Steppenwolf, The John Kay Band,
Notable instruments
Rickenbacker 381

John Kay (born Joachim Fritz Krauledat, 12 April 1944, Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany, now Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia)[2] is a German-Canadian-American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist known as the frontman of Steppenwolf.[3]

Early life

In the Evacuation of East Prussia in early 1945, in harsh winter conditions, his mother first had to flee with the baby boy from the advancing Soviet troops. In 1948, the two also fled from Arnstadt in the East German Soviet occupation zone to resettle in Hanover, West Germany (as recounted in his song "Renegade" on the album Steppenwolf 7). Living in the British occupation zone, the young Joachim, who suffered from eye problems, listened to music broadcast by the British Forces Broadcasting Service, before his family moved to Canada in 1958.

Musical career

Kay in a performance in South Carolina on January 1, 1971

Kay joined a blues rock and folk music group known as The Sparrows in 1965, which had moderate success in Canada before moving to California in the USA, augmenting its line-up and changing its name to Steppenwolf in 1967. With music that pioneered hard rock and heavy metal, Kay's Steppenwolf had international success with songs such as "Born to Be Wild", "Magic Carpet Ride", "Monster", "The Pusher", and "Rock Me". This was multiplied by the use of "Born to Be Wild" and "The Pusher" in the 1969 movie Easy Rider.

Kay recorded both as a solo artist and with Steppenwolf during the late 1970s, and wrapped up Steppenwolf's 40th year of touring with what was to be a final gig in October 2007. However, Kay and Steppenwolf appeared July 24, 2010, at the three-day HullabaLOU music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.[4]

Awards and recognition

Kay's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

In 2004, although never becoming a Canadian citizen,[2] Kay was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in recognition of the beginning of his musical career in Toronto. Kay was present at the induction ceremony in Toronto, and reiterated his strong affection for Canada.[5]

Personal life

Kay was born with a congenital disorder called achromatopsia - complete color blindness - a defect of the cone cells in the eyes which causes him to see only with his rod cells and thus only in black and white and grey shades, and causes increased sensitivity to light, so he wears sunglasses regardless of time of day, and during his concerts. (He was seen without sunglasses on the PBS show "The Best of the 60's (My Music Archives).) His eye condition qualified him as legally blind.[6] Despite this condition, he is an avid videographer.


Studio albums (Steppenwolf and solo)

Year Album Chart positions
1968 Steppenwolf 1 6
1968 The Second 2 3
1969 At Your Birthday Party 12 7
1969 Monster 11 17
1970 Steppenwolf 7 14 19
1971 For Ladies Only 54
1972 Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes (Solo debut) 50 113
1973 My Sportin' Life (2nd Solo album) 200
1974 Slow Flux 47
1975 Hour of the Wolf 155
1976 Skullduggery
1978 All in Good Time (3rd solo album)
1980 Live In London (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
1982 Wolftracks (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
1984 Paradox (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
1987 Rock & Roll Rebels (John Kay and Steppenwolf album) 171
1987 Lone Steppenwolf (4th Solo Album)
1990 Rise & Shine (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
1996 Feed the Fire (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
1997 The Lost Heritage Tapes (5th solo album)
2001 Heretics and Privateers (6th solo album)
2004 Live in Louisville (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)

Solo singles

Year Single Chart positions Album
1972 "I'm Movin' On" 45 52 Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes
1973 "Moonshine (Friend of Mine)" 26 19 44 105 My Sportin' Life
"Easy Evil" 82 102

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1 Edwardson, Ryan. Canuck Rock: A History of Canadian Popular Music. University of Toronto Press, 2009. Pg.268
  3. Prato, Greg. "Biography: John Kay". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "HullabaLOU Line-up". Churchill Downs Entertainment Group. Retrieved 6 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "John Kay". Canada's Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. John Kay and Steppenwolf Interview on the Grabow agency website, retrieved May 3rd 2011

External links