• Goldy McJohn, Steppenwolf, 72

    From treg@iwvisp.com@21:1/5 to All on Fri Aug 4 18:33:44 2017
    Steppenwolf founding member Goldy McJohn, whose roaring organ sounds and big hair brought a powerful presence to the group behind the classic-rock
    staples Born to be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride, has died. The Canadian
    keyboard player died on Tuesday of a heart attack, according to a post on
    his Facebook page. He was 72.

    "He died at home in my arms, that's all I can say," McJohn's wife, Sonja,
    told The Canadian Press by phone from Seattle on Friday, adding they had
    been together for 30 years. He was playing the organ right up until the day before he died, she said. "I bought him an organ that he wanted really bad
    and he played it almost every day since I got it for him. And I wish I could hear him now." A funeral service has been scheduled for next Friday in Seattle.

    McJohn's given name was John Goadsby, but he picked up the nickname Goldy in the late 60s and decided to stick with it. He added Mc to his surname to honour his late mother (whose maiden name was McIntyre).

    McJohn and Toronto-raised lead singer John Kay were among the founding
    members of Steppenwolf. The group also included Canadians Jerry Edmonton on drums and Nick St. Nicholas on bass. The band got its start as The Sparrows, playing gigs around Ontario. Rockabilly musician Ronnie Hawkins recalls them playing at his club, the Hawk's Nest, on Yonge Street in Toronto. "They were just starting when they were at the Hawk's Nest, but I remember them and the piano player had that afro or whatever you call that great big head of
    hair," Hawkins said by phone Friday from his home in Peterborough, Ont.
    "[The crowd] loved them. That's what got them started. They were so good at the Hawk's Nest, they started getting jobs everywhere."

    Though the group disbanded as The Sparrows, the bandmates re-formed under
    the new name Steppenwolf and found huge success with a self-titled 1968
    debut album that included the hits Born to Be Wild and The Pusher. McJohn
    was also a member of Little John & The Friars, the Mynah Birds, Humble Pie
    and Manbeast.

    Steppenwolf had been considered for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, but was ultimately not selected. The band continues
    to tour — now under the name John Kay & Steppenwolf — with a mix of original
    and new members.

    McJohn was not touring with the band in its current incarnation. He had been living with his wife Sonja in Washington state, where he enjoyed golfing and playing music. He had been scheduled to play a show in Indio, Calif., in September. The gig will now be a tribute concert in his memory.

    Ray Arthur

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