The Origin Of Steppenwolf’s Name
Steppenwolf - The Ed Sullivan Show
Steppenwolf is a name that’s been intertwined with the counterculture life. Whether you’re referring to the book or the rock band, people who’ve lived through the era could say a thing or two about its legacy.
The latter was a rock band that rose prominently in the late 60s to 70s. They were known for their classic hit, “Born to be Wild,” and a haughty rendition of “The Pusher” by Hoyt Axton. Their style was efficient in the turbulent time of political and cultural beliefs, then paired with frontman John Kay’s raspy vocals, which seemed to be effective in bestowing a strong message to come across to listeners.
But during the band’s rise to fame, the name Steppenwolf was quite an unusual take; seeing how traditional the names were during this time. Major examples of their contemporaries were The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Who, or The Animals. And so, their choice for a unique name yielded inspirations to future rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath, to opt-in picking a more suitable name that stands out from the rest.
And so, where did the name Steppenwolf come from?
The name came from the novel Steppenwolf, written by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse, which details the life of a middle-aged man experiencing an existential crisis. According to DW, the band’s producer coined the name of the group after reading the novel and adoring its title. At that point, none of the members have read the book, but seeing as they weren’t any better suggestions than that, they quickly accepted it.
The novel Steppenwolf was dubbed a “countercultural classic” by many and has gained a rise in popularity in the 60s, so there’s no doubt that the band venerated the name to be associated with them for years.