"The central theme of Feed The Fire," says John Kay, "is,
'don't let the bastards get you down!'" Lyrically, songs such as "Rock &
Roll Rebels" and "Hold On" focus on the resiliency of the human spirit in
spite of life's many setbacks. The title song speaks to the needs of the
inner flame that burns in all of us and drives us in our quest for
fulfillment. Other tracks, such as "Man On A Mission", "Rock Steady" and
"Rage", are songs of defiance and passion, while "Bad Attitude" and "Give Me
News I Can Use", rely on tongue-in-cheek and at times sardonic humor to make
In Kay's words: "This album is about and for all the rock
and roll rebels, be they 14 or 54, who refuse to throw in the towel and who
struggle to keep their dreams alive in the face of ever diminishing
freedom." With Feed The Fire, their most potent album in years, Kay and
company have written the newest chapter of the Steppenwolf legend.
Kay has certainly lived the life of a rock and roll rebel
himself. After a perilous midnight escape from post-war East Germany as a
child, he grew up with a steady diet of Armed Forces Radio and became
inspired by the likes of Little Richard and Chuck Berry. At age 13, John
decided to make rock and roll his life. "Considering I was only 13, legally
blind, spoke the wrong language and was on the wrong side of the ocean,
maybe I was a little optimistic," he says. In spite of these considerable
adversities, by his 14th birthday John miraculously found himself with
guitar in hand on the other side of that ocean in Toronto, Canada. John
learned English from the speed rapping disc jockeys and music from the
artists of the day, and he began to perform on amateur radio shows in his
mid-teens. After high school, John roamed the American continent performing
acoustic blues in coffee houses and bars. He soon met and joined the
Canadian band "The Sparrow" while playing in Toronto's Yorkville Village in
1965. The group, migrating from Toronto to New York and later to San
Francisco, became part of the Bay Area music scene. The Sparrow broke up in
1967, after several unsuccessful attempts at recording for Columbia Records.
A couple of months later, John formed Steppenwolf in Los Angeles. Powered by
his gritty vocals, the band's blues-based rock burst upon an unsuspecting
public in the summer of 1968, creating timeless classics as "Born To Be
Wild", "Magic Carpet Ride", "The Pusher", and "Rock Me."
Following Kay's decision to break up the band in the mid
70's, he embarked on a solo career that saw the release of albums such as
Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes, My Sportin' Life, and All In Good Time.
In the late 70's John learned that several bogus groups, using the name
Steppenwolf, were touring and trashing the very reputation of the band that
Kay had created. In 1980 he decided to act and the John Kay Band quickly
became John Kay and Steppenwolf. Several years of intensive touring followed
and resulted in the rebuilding of the name.
Since the early 80's, the group has featured the
considerable talents of John's co-producing and writing partner, Michael
Wilk (keyboards/bass/vocals) and long time drummer/vocalist Ron Hurst.
Recently, they were joined by newest member, lead guitarist/vocalist, Danny
Johnson. Since re-establishing the name, John Kay and Steppenwolf have
released five albums and have toured annually on a worldwide basis. In 1994,
Kay returned triumphantly with the Wolf to play concerts in the former East
Germany, where he was reunited with friends and relatives he had not seen
since he was 4 years-old.
With sales in excess of 20 million units worldwide (and
increasing annually) and songs licensed for use in 37 motion pictures and 36
television programs (as of this writing), the group continues to focus on
the future. Recent projects and activities include:
"Looking back, it has always been my inner fire that has
pushed me to overcome life's obstacles and allowed me to realize my dreams,"