Nick St. Nicholas

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Nick St. Nicholas
Nick St. Nicholas.jpg
Nick St. Nicholas, June 2007.
Background information
Birth name Klaus Karl Kassbaum
Born (1943-09-28) September 28, 1943 (age 73)
Plön, Germany
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Psychedelic rock, acid rock, blues rock, hard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s) Musician and Bandleader
Instruments bass guitar, vocals
Years active 1964–present
Associated acts The Mynah Birds
The Sparrows
Blue Cheer
Lone Wolf
The Wolf
World Classic Rockers

Nick St. Nicholas (born Klaus Karl Kassbaum September 28, 1943) is a bandleader, bass guitarist, singer and songwriter.[1] best known for his partnership in Steppenwolf.[2] Born in Plön, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, his family was forced to flee because his father, an officer in the German navy, was part of the plan to overthrow Hitler in the failed Operation Valkyrie, and was an assassination target.[citation needed] The family moved to Toronto via Switzerland and became Canadian citizens. His sister Maren joined The Royal Conservatory of Music, (Canadian Ballet Company & Conservatory of Music), as a pianist. He also has a younger brother, Gary who entered the Merchant navy.

Early career[edit]

Kassbaum spent a brief period as bassist with the Epics, then Shirley Matthews and the Big Town Boys before organizing a set of musicians who eventually coalesced as the Mynah Birds, featuring singers Rick James, Neil Young and Jimmy Livingston.[3][4]

In 1965, he replaced Bruce Palmer as bassist with Jack London and the Sparrows, became Nick St. Nicholas, and played on most of the tracks on their only LP, which was released in 1965. As the band leader, St. Nicholas hired East Prussian-born front man, John Kay when Jack London left The Sparrows and became "Sparrow" [nee: "The Sparrows"], moved the band south to New York for a modest record deal with Columbia Records, then drove Sparrow non-stop to California.

St. Nicholas was one of the driving forces in music of the hippie counterculture movement, the Summer of Love. Having booked the band at the Matrix club in San Francisco, on May 14, 1967,[5] two live shows were recorded, including a 20-minute version of The Pusher. These are the live recordings released by ABC Dunhill Records as Early Steppenwolf.[6]

In 1967 St. Nicholas also joined a Los Angeles-based group called The Hardtimes, who soon renamed themselves T.I.M.E., which stands for Trust in Men Everywhere. Capital Records signed them to a $500,000 recording contract, but their manager, the now deceased Ron Levin, turned out to be a famous con man[7] and had absconded with the advance and all of the band's earnings.

Prior to the formation of the Steppenwolf partnership in 1968,[8] music producer-arranger, Gabriel Mekler changed the name from Sparrow to Steppenwolf based on a book he was reading at the time by Hermann Hesse.


After having recorded two albums without him, St. Nicholas's Sparrow band mates, (vocalist/guitarist John Kay, drummer Jerry Edmonton and organist Goldy McJohn) came to see him perform with T.I.M.E. at the Whiskey A Go Go on the Sunset Strip and asked him to leave T.I.M.E. to rejoin them as Steppenwolf.

"1967, John Kay, Jerry Edmonton, Michael Monarch and Goldie McJohn formed a musical band called "Steppenwolf." In 1968, Nicholas Kassbaum, who is professionally known as "Nick St. Nicholas," joined Steppenwolf as a bass player. That year, the band members entered into a partnership agreement whereby the members became co-equal partners and owners in Steppenwolf, and agreed to share equally the band's expenses and income. Also in 1968, the band members signed a recording agreement with Dunhill Records both as partners and as Steppenwolf band members. From late 1968 until late April 1970, Steppenwolf, with Kassbaum as its bass player, toured the world in concerts and recorded Steppenwolf 's well-received music. Kassbaum appeared prominently on Steppenwolf record album covers and authored Steppenwolf compositions. In 1971, John Kay, who had asserted control over Steppenwolf, excluded Kassbaum from the band." –[9] 9th Circuit

St. Nicholas has several Gold and Platinum records to his credit playing and contributing on four Steppenwolf albums: At Your Birthday Party, Early Steppenwolf, Monster, and Steppenwolf Live.[10] He performed on many television shows as a member of Steppenwolf, including The Ed Sullivan Show, August 17, 1968 where the band performed their 2nd hit and biggest hit, Mars Bonfire penned "Born to Be Wild" and the 3rd hit and 8th highest charting St. Nicholas/Kay penned "It's Never Too Late", The Smothers Brothers, American Bandstand, Playboy After Dark, Beat Club, Della, Upbeat, and The Steve Allen Show, as well as VH1's Behind The Music. St. Nicholas was squeezed out of Steppenwolf in a power play by Kay in 1971. Grammy Awards board member and former manager of T.I.M.E., Jeff Greenberg came to see St. Nicholas to inform him that Steppenwolf was at a rehearsal at SIR Studios and that St. Nicholas was not at the rehearsal instead they now had a "new bassist", George Biondo. More than twenty years of still unresolved litigation followed.[11][12][13]

During St. Nicholas's ouster from Steppenwolf, he replaced Dickie Peterson in Blue Cheer alongside Ruben De Fuentes on guitar and Terry Rae on drums. The band both toured and recorded during this time, but the songs weren't released until Live & Unreleased '68/'74 was released in 1996.

After Kay and Edmonton's version of Steppenwolf disbanded in 1976, St. Nicholas reformed the group with McJohn and guitarist Kent Henry, who, substituting, for Michael Monarch, had recorded the guitar tracks on the For Ladies Only album in 1971. There were several versions of this band touring at the same time for which St. Nicholas was not responsible. During this turn, St. Nicholas's Steppenwolf included drummers such as Steve Riley and Frankie Banali.

St. Nicholas stopped touring with Steppenwolf in 1980 due to intimidation, mortal threats and legal machinations by Kay supported by suspicions that Kay hired an accident crew to end Gabriel Meckler's life in 1977.[14][15]


In 1980 he formed a band called "Starwolf" with keyboardist Steve Stewart. Stewart left in the late 1980s and Randy Carr joined; about the same time guitarist Dave Olsen joined and "Starwolf" became "Lone Wolf". In 1988, Kurt Griffey was added as a second guitarist and Chris Sweeney joined as the band's drummer. After "Lone Wolf" became "The Wolf" continuing from 1988 to 1989, Ronnie Carson took over for Sweeney and Olsen left.

In the early 1990s, St. Nicholas formed a new "Lone Wolf" with Griffey, singer Richard Ward, and drummer Daryl Johnson, featuring at bike rallies and clubs,[16] continuing until 1997.

World Classic Rockers[edit]

In 1997 he began a new heavy metal chapter as St. Nicholas launched the supergroup World Classic Rockers, bringing Griffey with him into the new venture along with Sparrow and Steppenwolf bandmate, Michael Monarch.[17] Members include former members of Steppenwolf, Santana, Toto, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, Kansas, Eagles and others. The World Classic Rockers (WCR) prepare to celebrate the 20-year anniversary.

"My son was in a band called Under The Influence of Giants. You guys are the giants. You influenced a whole generation of music." KUSI Good Morning San Diego anchorman Carlos Amezcua.


Janis Joplin is the first person St. Nicholas met upon arrival at the Tropicana on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood California immediately after having driven The Sparrow non-stop for sixty hours from New York's New Jersey Turnpike.

The Tropicana motel was owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team's left handed pitcher, Sandy Koufax. The record labels sent their out of town bands and artists there as a home away from home.

In early 1967 Nick St. Nicholas, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin met up in San Francisco to drive the burgeoning love movement music scene. He then returned to Los Angeles to quickly move the band north as part of the driving force of the hippie counterculture movement, the Summer of Love.

St. Nicholas is the infamous "Ooo Ooo Man" in "I'm in Love With the Ooo-Ooo Man", by The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), on their Frank Zappa produced album Permanent Damage 1969.[18]

St. Nicholas put David Bowie license plates on his sports car to promote the fledgling artist and attracted a huge following on the Ventura Freeway as Bowie rose to stardom and the public believed that to be him.

St. Nicholas started The Runaways, the first all girl heavy metal rock band, with the late Kim Fowley and Joan Jett. The first time the Runaways performed was at the house in Malibu at Pt. Dume Zumerez Drive and Hwy 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. Joan Jett used to ride around in his VW.

Freak accidents have killed producer arranger Gabriel Mekler 1977, bassist who wrote Magic Carpet Ride Rushton Moreve 1981 and drummer Jerry Edmonton 1993.

Randy Meisner has performed more concerts with WCR than with the Eagles.

Personal life[edit]

Nick St. Nicholas has played the accordion since childhood. He enjoys riding his "beautiful 100th Anniversary Harley Davidson Springer along the California Coastline". St. Nicholas appreciates the wild west motif he first encountered in Colorado while touring. He is a dog lover.

St. Nicholas has two sons, Jesse and Devon.

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Early Steppenwolf
    1969 (recorded in 1967 as The Sparrow)
    U.S. #29
    Dunhill Records
  • Steppenwolf Live
    U.S. #7
    U.K. #16
    Dunhill Records
  • World Classic Rockers: Live (1st edition)
    WCR Records
  • World Classic Rockers: Live (2nd edition)
    WCR Records
  • World Classic Rockers: Live (3rd edition)
    WCR Records
  • World Classic Rockers: Live (4th edition)
    WCR Records
  • World Classic Rockers: Live (5th edition)
    WCR Records
  • World Classic Rockers: Live (6th edition)
    WCR Records



Release date A-side B-side US Chart Peak UK Chart Peak
1968 "Make It Alright "Take Me Along"
"What Would Life Be Without It" "Tripping into Sunshine"
1969 "Rock Me" (Kay) "Jupiter Child" (Monarch/Kay/Edmonton) 10
"It's Never Too Late" (St. Nicholas/Kay) "Happy Birthday" (Mekler) 51
"Move Over" (Kay/Mekler) "Power Play" (Kay) 31
"Monster" (Kay/Edmonton/St. Nicholas/Byrom) "Berry Rides Again" (Kay) 39
1970 "Hey Lawdy Mama" (Kay/Byrom/Edmonton) "Twisted" (Kay) 35

Preceded by
Rushton Moreve
Steppenwolf Bass Guitarist Vocalist
Succeeded by
George Biondo
Preceded by
George Biondo
Steppenwolf Bass Guitarist Vocalist
Succeeded by
Chad Peery

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Nick St. Nicholas Compositions, The Sparrow, T.I.M.E. Trust In Men Everywhere, Steppenwolf, The Five Stair Steps at AllMusic
  2. ^ Ex Steppenwolf Bassist Can Bill Himself As Such 9th Circuit Court, MTV/MTV News, January 2, 2001
  3. ^ ".MTV Rick James Its My Time
  4. ^ Shakey: Biography of Neil Young
  5. ^ "Nick St. Nicholas – CLASSIC ROCK EVEN CLASSIER WITH THE WORLD CLASSIC ROCKERS By Aaron Stipkovich". Retrieved 2016-04-17. 
  6. ^ "Early Steppenwolf – CD (out of Print)". Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  7. ^ conman, Ron Levin murdered, Los Angeles Times Billionaire Boys Club
  8. ^ Nicholas Kassbaum, Aka Nick St. Nicholas, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Steppenwolf Productions, Inc.; Steppenwolf, Inc.; Joachim Fritz Kreudeldat, Aka John Kay, Defendants-appellees, 236 F.3d 487 (9th Cir. 2000), 9th Circuit
  9. ^ Nicholas Kassbaum, Aka Nick St. Nicholas, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Steppenwolf Productions, Inc.; Steppenwolf, Inc.; Joachim Fritz Kreudeldat, Aka John Kay, Defendants-appellees, 236 F.3d 487 (9th Cir. 2000), 9th Circuit
  10. ^ Steppenwolf/ Billboard The Hot 100, Billboard The Hot 100 Chart
  11. ^ Nicholas Kassbaum, Aka Nick St. Nicholas, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Steppenwolf Productions, Inc.; Steppenwolf, Inc.; Joachim Fritz Kreudeldat, Aka John Kay, Defendants-appellees, 236 F.3d 487 (9th Cir. 2000), 9th Circuit
  12. ^ Nick St. Nicholas Compositions
  13. ^ Nick St. Nicholas Compositions
  14. ^ Nicholas Kassbaum, Aka Nick St. Nicholas, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Steppenwolf Productions, Inc.; Steppenwolf, Inc.; Joachim Fritz Kreudeldat, Aka John Kay, Defendants-appellees, 236 F.3d 487 (9th Cir. 2000), 9th Circuit
  15. ^ Joaquin Fritz aka John Kay, narrator, John Forbes (Behind The Music TV Series: Steppenwolf Episode aired 6 September 1998), VH1
  16. ^ The Rocker, The Preacher's Daughter and The Pink Cadillac, LA Times/Articles, October 15, 1992
  17. ^ Good Morning San Diego, anchor Carlos Amezcua, Nick St. Nicholas of Steppenwolf and Greg Walker of Santana (7th Annual American Freedom Festival with World Classic Rockers concert aboard USS Midway May 28, 2016 aired 27 May 2016), KUSI News San Diego
  18. ^ [Pamela Des Barres ROLLING STONE Column #70: Let The Sunshine In], Rolling Stone/Column, 1969