John Kay (musician)

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John Kay
Kay performing at Lillehammer Rock Weekend in Norway, 2007
Kay performing at Lillehammer Rock Weekend in Norway, 2007
Background information
Birth nameJoachim Fritz Krauledat
Born (1944-04-12) 12 April 1944 (age 79)
Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany
OriginWaterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Singer
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • harmonica
Years active1964–present
Member ofThe John Kay Band
Formerly of

John Kay (born Joachim Fritz Krauledat, 12 April 1944) is a German-born Canadian rock singer, songwriter and guitarist known as the frontman of Steppenwolf.[1]

Early life[edit]

Kay was born on 12 April 1944[2] in Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany (now Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia).[3] His father Fritz, born 1913 in Absteinen near Pogegen in the Memelland (today Opstainys in Pagėgiai Municipality, Lithuania),[4] was killed a month before Kay was born.[5]

In early 1945, Kay's 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 the 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 had eye problems and could not speak or understand English, was first inspired by and learned about rock 'n' roll music while listening to Little Richard on U.S. Armed Forces radio.[6] When his family moved to Toronto in 1958, teachers had a hard time pronouncing his birth name, so he was called John K instead. Five years later, they moved to Buffalo, New York.


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

In 1965, invited by fellow German-born bass player Nick St. Nicholas (born Klaus Kassbaum), Kay joined a blues rock and folk music group known as The Sparrows, 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 50th year of touring with what was to be a final gig in October 2018. Kay and Steppenwolf appeared on 24 July 2010 at the three-day HullabaLOU music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Kay's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

In 2004, although he never became a Canadian citizen,[3] 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.[8] He was also nominated as part of Steppenwolf for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 for the induction year 2017.[9] In 2018, Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" was one of the first five record singles to be inducted into The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.[10]

Personal life[edit]

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, were 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.[11]

In 2016, Kay credited his relationship with Jutta as part of the inspiration for Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride".[12]

As of 2005, Kay has residences in West Vancouver, British Columbia, and Nashville, Tennessee.[13]



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
1974 Slow Flux 47
1975 Hour of the Wolf 155
1976 Skullduggery
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
1990 Rise & Shine (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
1996 Feed the Fire (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)
2004 Live in Louisville (John Kay and Steppenwolf album)


Year Album Chart positions
1972 Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes 50 48 113
1973 My Sportin' Life 200
1978 All in Good Time
1987 Lone Steppenwolf (compilation)
1997 The Lost Heritage Tapes
2001 Heretics and Privateers

Solo singles[edit]

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


  1. ^ Prato, Greg. "Biography: John Kay". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  2. ^ Greg Prato. "John Kay | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b Edwardson, Ryan. Canuck Rock: A History of Canadian Popular Music, University of Toronto Press, 2009. pg. 268
  4. ^ "Detailansicht". Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Empowerment of Music: guest John Kay of Steppenwolf". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Exclusive Interview: John Kay of Steppenwolf Returns to Protect Wildlife and Human Rights". Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  7. ^ "HullabaLOU Line-up". Churchill Downs Entertainment Group. Archived from the original on 1 January 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  8. ^ "John Kay". Canada's Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Steppenwolf Frontman John Kay on Rock Hall of Fame Nomination: 'It's a Surprise'". Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducts Songs for the First Time, Including 'Born to Be Wild' & 'Louie Louie'". Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  11. ^ * Kay, John and Jutta Maue. "John Kay & Jutta Maue-Kay Bios". Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  12. ^ Myers, Marc (12 July 2016). "The Story Behind Steppenwolf's 'Magic Carpet Ride'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  13. ^ Ghianni, Tim (20 March 2005). "Life's been a wild ride". The Tennessean. Retrieved 23 October 2022 – via
  14. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 164. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]