John Kay (born Joachim Fritz Krauledat, 12 April 1944) is a German-Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist known as the frontman of Steppenwolf.
Kay was born in Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany, now Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.
His father Fritz was killed a month before he was born. When Kay was a baby in early 1945, his mother fled with him from the advancing Soviet troops during the Evacuation of East Prussia in harsh winter conditions. Their train got stuck near Arnstadt, which was first occupied by Americans, but then became part of the East German Soviet occupation zone. In 1949, they crossed the already fortified border to resettle in Hanover, West Germany (as recounted in his song "Renegade" on the album Steppenwolf 7). Now living in the British occupation zone, the young Joachim, who suffered from eye problems, listened to broadcasts by the British Forces Broadcasting Service, like the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany. He also saw a news reel about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, shot and smuggled out by László Kovács of later Easy Rider fame. His family moved to Canada in 1958.
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, 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".
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 on 24 July 2010 at the three-day HullabaLOU music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
Awards and recognition
In 2004, although never becoming a Canadian citizen, 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.
Kay is married to Jutta Maue, whom he met in 1965 in Canada while she was working in a coffeehouse where Kay's band, The Sparrows, was playing. They have one daughter, Shawn. The couple founded the Maue-Kay Foundation, which supports human rights and the protection of wildlife and the environment.
Studio albums (Steppenwolf and solo)
|1969||At Your Birthday Party||12||7|
|1971||For Ladies Only||—||54|
|1972||Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes (Solo debut)||50||113|
|1973||My Sportin' Life (2nd Solo album)||—||200|
|1975||Hour of the Wolf||—||155|
|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 (compilation of previously released solo material)||—||—|
|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)||—||—|
|CAN||CAN AC||CAN Country||US|
|1972||"I'm Movin' On"||45||—||—||52||Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes|
|1973||"Moonshine (Friend of Mine)"||26||19||44||105||My Sportin' Life|