Steppenwolf

Born to Be Wild

Composed by Mars Bonfire

Song Review by

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.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Steppenwolf 1968 Analogue Productions / Apo / APO (Analogue Production Originals) / Universal Music 3:30
Easy Rider 1969
Original Soundtrack
Universal Music 3:37
Max Weinberg Presents: Let There Be Drums, Vol. 2 - The 60's 196?
Various Artists
Rhino 3:30
Live [BGO] 1970 Beat Goes On 5:44
Live [MCA] 1971 Geffen / MCA / Universal 5:42
16 Greatest Hits 1973 Interscope / MCA 3:30
Magic Carpet Ride 1985 MCA
No Image 1986
Various Artists
Vestron
Classic Rock: 1968 1987
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:29
Flashback 1989
Original Soundtrack
WTG Records 3:30
No Image 1990
Various Artists
MCA
Tour of Duty 1990
Various Artists
Magnum
Born to Be Wild: A Retrospective 1991 Island / MCA / Universal 4:46
Born to Be Wild 1992 Ariola Express
Ultimate Rock, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
Alex
Hit Parader Salutes 20 Years of Metal 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:30
The Harley-Davidson: American Motorcycle Soundtrack 1994
Various Artists
Cabin Fever Music 3:29
Kerrang!: The Album 1994
Various Artists
Alex 3:25
The Metal Box Set 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 6:41
Harley Davidson Road Songs 1994
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 3:29
Rock, Vol. 1 [Sounds Direct] 1994
Various Artists
Sounds Direct
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  2: 1963-1969 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:40
The 70's Come Alive Again 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:29
Radio Saigon [Arcade] 1995
Various Artists
Arcade Music 3:27
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Rhino 3:29
Party Time, Vol. 2: Ultimate Party Album 1996
Various Artists
SPG
Only Rock 'N Roll 1965-1969: #1 Radio Hits 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 3:29
Disc Jockey Hits, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Stardust Records 2:53
I Love Rock & Roll: Hits of the '60s, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Priority Records 3:30
Oh What a Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music 1996
Various Artists
Juno
Greatest Sports Rock and Jams 1997
Various Artists
Cold Front Records / K-Tel Distribution
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Arena Rock 1997
Various Artists
Flashback Records 3:29
Wild America 1997
Original Soundtrack
Edel America Records / Edeltone 3:39
Under My Wheels: 12 Road Trippin' Tracks 1997
Various Artists
Hip-O
Hard Rock Cafe: Classic Rock 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:31
The Very Best of Steppenwolf 1997 Music Club International Records 3:32
This Is...Son of Cult Fiction 1997
Various Artists
Virgin 3:28
Number Ones: Party Time 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 3:37
Rock Legends [MCI] 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Masters of Rock 1998
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:30
Easyriders, Vol. 4 1998
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:28
Highway Rock: Rock This Town 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:35
Chronicles: 70's Rock Classics 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:28
Killer Classic Rock 1998
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:27
Hot on the Highway 1998
Various Artists
4:45
Vietnam: A Musical Retrospective 1998
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Uptown/Universal 4:38
Greatest Sports Rock and Jams [Box] 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:36
New York Yankees Greatest Hits, Vol. 2: The Dream Season 1998
Various Artists
Atlantic 3:26
Strip Jointz Rocks: Rock N' Roll for Sexy Dancers 1998
Various Artists
Robbins Entertainment 3:27
Highway Rockin' 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / Rebound Records 3:31
Greatest Hits of the 60s, Vol. 3 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 3:31
Jukebox Hits of 1968, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
DJ Specialist 3:29
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 3:28
Invasion of the Rock Zombies 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:30
Essential Soundtracks 1999
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 3:28
Steppenwolf/Steppenwolf the Second 1999 Beat Goes On 3:32
Good Morning Saigon 1999
Various Artists
Bcd
Superhits of Rock: 1965 - 1979 1999
Various Artists
L & D 3:31
All Time Greatest Hits 1999 Geffen / MCA 3:31
Classic '60s [Time Life] 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:32
Rock Giants Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Riviere International Records 6:25
Greatest Hits of the 60's [Platinum] 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc
Party Time [SPG] 2000
Various Artists
SPG 3:35
Amplified 2000
Various Artists
UTV 3:30
Best of Rock, Vol. 2: The Ultimate Collection 2000
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:29
Greatest Hits and More Live 2000 Disky 7:19
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 3:27
The New York Yankees Collection 2001
Various Artists
Alphabet City 3:26
The History of Rock 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:28
Raised on Rock 2002
Various Artists
Goldies 3:31
Hollywood's Greatest 2002
Various Artists
Golden Stars
Ez Ridin' 2002
Various Artists
Special Products / Universal Special Products 3:30
Stuart Little 2 2002
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 3:30
Born to Be Wild [Music Club] 2002
Various Artists
Bcd
Air Guitar 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Rock Monsters 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Rock Triple Set 2002
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:28
Trailer Tracks: 18 Classic Southern Rock Anthems! 2003
Various Artists
UTV 3:29
You Heard It at the Movies 2003
Various Artists
Golden Stars 3:28
Chartbusters USA, Vol. 3 2003
Various Artists
Ace 3:30
Universal Masters Collection 2003 MCA 3:30
Collection 2003 Spectrum Music 3:29
Nostalgie 20 Ans La Légende: Légendes Internationales 2003
Various Artists
ULM TV
Rock With the Stars, Vol. 1 2004
Various Artists
Disky 5:39
Rock Oldies [Quality] 2004
Various Artists
Bellaphon Records 3:35
Good Morning Vietnam: A Soundtrack for a Generation 2004
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:26
Classic Hits of the 60's 2004
Various Artists
San Fran 3:29
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Legends: My Generation 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:31
Best Hits in Japan: Best of 60's 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Gold 2005 Geffen 3:30
Rock Hits [Universal] 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Classic Rock Gold 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:30
American Classics: 17 Greats from the States 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:31
Headbanger's Bible: 45 of the Biggest Headbangers 2005
Various Artists
WEA International 3:26
V8 Supercars: A Full Tank of Rock 2005
Various Artists
Festival Records 3:28
Even More Than a Feeling 2005
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:29
The Best Air Guitar Album in the World... Ever, Vol. 2 2006
Various Artists
Virgin 3:25
20th Century Masters: Best of 60s Rock N Roll 2006
Various Artists
UMVD 3:32
Very Best of Heartbeat 2006
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin TV
Monsters of Rock [EMI] 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
True Rock 2006
Various Artists
Spectrum Music / Universal 3:38
The Classic Sixties Collection: 1968 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Hot Wheels & Highways: Great Driving Songs 2007
Various Artists
Golden Stars
Timeless Rock Legends 2007
Various Artists
Immortal
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:31
Flower Power [Time Life Box] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:31
Karaoke: The Sixties Hits, Vol. 4 2007
Karaoke
Chartbuster Karaoke 3:43
Road Trippin' 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:28
No Image 2008 Euro Trend / MCP
Best of Steppenwolf: Green Series 2008 Universal International
Die Ultimative Chartshow: Rock Classics 2008
Various Artists
Polystar 3:31
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:28
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Eva
SWR 1 Sommer Rock 2008
Various Artists
EMM 3:35
100 Hits: Drive Time 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:29
Rock Me/The Early Years 2008 World of Blueline 3:31
No Image 2008
Various Artists
ABC Music
Hotel for Dogs 2009
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Razor & Tie 3:29
Rock Heroes [Euro Trend] 2009
Various Artists
Euro Trend 3:28
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:29
The Best Movie Album in the World... Ever! 2 2009
Various Artists
EMI 3:26
Flower Power: The Music of the Love Generation 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:31
Gods of Guitar [Universal] 2011
Various Artists
Universal 3:29
Greatest Ever! Driving Rock 2012
Various Artists
Greatest Ever
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:27
The  ABC/Dunhill Singles Collection 2015 Real Gone Music 3:04
American Highway
Various Artists
Rhino / WMTV 3:27
Driving Rock
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music TV 3:28
Good Morning, Vietnam
Various Artists
Disky
No Image
Various Artists
Sony Music
John Laws on Route 66-22 Legendary Driving Songs
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
No Image
Various Artists
Phantom Records (England) / Membran
No Image
Original Soundtrack
Geffen 3:37
No Image
Various Artists
3:32
No Image
Various Artists
Now!
Party Time
Various Artists
SPG
Pure Rock, Pt. 1
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:26
Pure Rock, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Baur 3:55
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
The  Best of Classic Rock: Green Series
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 3:30
The  Old Grey Whistle Test 40th Anniversary
Various Artists
Rhino 3:29
The Greatest Guitar Riffs of All Time
Various Artists
EMI 3:30
Vol. 2-Jim Beam-40 Shots of Rock-2nd Shout
Various Artists
Festival Records
No Image
Various Artists
WSM
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