Steppenwolf's Michael Monarch

Michael Monarch, the man responsible for the blistering guitar work in the Steppenwolf

classic "Born To Be Wild" (

HREF="">RealAudio excerpt),

now plays with other veteran rockers such as the Eagles' Randy Meisner in a band

called the World Classic Rockers.

Monarch, best known as one of the founding guitarists for hard-rock band Steppenwolf,

was born on this day in 1950 in Los Angeles.

Steppenwolf were formed in Los Angeles in 1967 by lead vocalist and guitarist John

Kay, an East German immigrant. In addition to Monarch on guitar, the band featured

Goldy McJohn on organ, Rushton Moreve on bass and Jerry Edmonton on drums. A

producer named the group after the Herman Hesse novel.

The group's eponymous debut album, issued in 1968 on Dunhill Records, contained the

classic road anthem "Born To Be Wild," a #2 smash. The song's line "heavy metal

thunder" popularized the term "heavy metal" to describe hard-rock music.

Featuring the gruff vocals of the sunglasses-wearing Kay, "Born To Be Wild" became a

counterculture anthem and was used in the infamous biker/drug film "Easy Rider," along

with another Steppenwolf track, "The Pusher." "Born to Be Wild" was more recently

featured in the 1997 film "Wild America," starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

In 1968, The Second spawned another huge hit, "Magic Carpet Ride."

Steppenwolf also had a #10 hit with "Rock Me," from the film "Candy," which featured

Ringo Starr, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton and Oscar winner James


Before the release of the album At Your Birthday Party (1969), Monarch quit the

band to work with Janis Joplin and Deep Purple's Roger Glover. In 1972, the rest of the

group disbanded, re-forming in 1974 for a few years. Monarch played in the heavy-metal

band Detective, with Michael DesBarres, in the second half of the '70s. In the meantime,

Kay re-formed Steppenwolf as John Kay and Steppenwolf, touring the oldies circuit.

During the past few years, Monarch has played guitar in the World Classic Rockers, the

band featuring former Moody Blues/Wings guitarist Denny Laine. In addition to Laine

and Meisner, the band includes Nick St. Nicholas, who joined Steppenwolf after

Monarch left. Loosely structured, the Rockers also feature, at times, Spencer Davis, the

Knack's Bruce Gary, Vanilla Fudge's Carmine Appice, and Toto's Bobby Kimball and

Fergie Frederiksen.

Monarch toured the West Coast as a solo act last year.

Other birthdays: Robbie Robertson, 55; Huey Lewis, 49; Henry Lee Summer, 44; Marc

Cohn, 40; and Bengt Lagerberg (Cardigans), 26.