The third single released from Steppenwolf's debut album (behind the pop "The Girl I Knew" and a raucous cover of Don Covay's R&B "Sookie Sookie," which the band performed in their first incarnation as Sparrow), the group hedged their bets on "Born to Be Wild," not identifying it as an A-side on the initial radio station 45 which paired it with "Everybody's Next One." Regardless, it didn't take long for program directors to get swept up in that nasty opening guitar riff and chugging organ that practically screamed to be blasted out of car radios while driving at radar-triggering speeds. Written as a slower ballad by Dennis Edmonton -- a former member of Sparrow and Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton's brother -- under the pseudonym Mars Bonfire, the rearranged song entered the charts at number 70 and in the course of seven weeks motored straight to number two in August of 1968, held from the top spot by the Rascals' "People Got to Be Free." Not quite the precursor to heavy metal music some claim even though it coined the term in the lyrics "I like smokin' lightening, heavy metal thunder," the song found even a wider biking audience when Dennis Hopper used it prominently (along with "The Pusher," another track from the group's debut) in his popular 1969 counterculture film Easy Rider. A roaring anthem of turbo-charged riff rock led by John Kay's growling vocals, it remains a timeless radio classic as well as a slice of '60s revolt that at once defines Steppenwolf's sound and provided them with their shot at AM immortality.