Watch Steppenwolf perform a banging version of Born To Be Wild on The Midnight Special

John Kay on The Midnight Special
(Image credit: The Midnight Special)

Steppenwolf didn't appear on The Midnight Special until February 1975 – by which time they'd already broken up and reformed – but footage of the band playing the classic Born To Be Wild on the show suggests that the break hadn't done the band too much harm. Or indeed, a change or two in membership. 

The new lineup of the band featured Eddie Cochran's nephew Bobby on lead guitar alongside band founders Kay, keyboardist Goldy McJohn and drummer Jerry Edmonton, plus bassist George Biondo, who'd first played with Steppenwolf in 1970. 

As well as Born To Be Wild, the band also performed Gang War Blues, Straight Shootin' Woman and Children of the Night, plus a cover of Albert Hammond's Smokey Factory Blues. The latter four tracks were all from the band's post-reunion album Slow Flux, which had been released the previous August, while joining the band on the show – which Steppenwolf also hosted – were Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters, Italian proggers PFM, and singer Linda Ronstadt.  

While the performance is sound – the climax of the twin guitar interplay between Kay and Cochrane is terrific – the comeback, sadly, was short-lived. McJohn was soon fired, and two subsequent albums – 1975's Hour of the Wolf and the following year's Skullduggery – both tanked. Within months, Steppenwolf broke up for a second time: Kay returned to The Midnight Special to announce the news. 

“By the mid-1970s we were flying in private jets,” Kay told Classic Rock. “We had the limousines, the saunas, the presidential suites and so forth. To some extent that removed us too much from the street-level thing that we were part of at the beginning. On the whole we were always a band of the people, for the people, by the people. 

"In the long run I think that’s a component for why we’re still here. Because there was some sort of perceived integrity that withstood the test of time. In the early days we were very accessible, and hanging out with our fans was fine. 

"Of course, after doing the Ed Sullivan show, and having songs on the charts, and the screaming young girls, well, things changed, and you could no longer do that because of security issues. After a while you also wanted privacy. But yeah, it changed how people looked at the band."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.