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No. 86: Steppenwolf, ‘Born To Be Wild’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

MCA Records

With ‘Born To Be Wild,’ Steppenwolf delivered not only a timeless rock anthem and open road biker soundtrack, but also one of the most iconic songs of an era, and a clear choice for inclusion on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list.

The song was written by Mars Bonfire who, though not a member of Steppenwolf, had previously been in the band The Sparrows with Steppenwolf leader John Kay.

The song appeared on the band’s debut album and was released as a single, making it as high as just shy of the No. 1 spot in the summer of 1968. It’s greatest success, however, would come a year later when it was featured prominently in the classic film ‘Easy Rider.’ From then on, it was forever attached to the idea of the open road, rebellion, freedom and rock and roll. The song has been covered countless times and used in dozens of movies and tv shows.

The other thing the song is most known for is the term ‘heavy metal’ as featured in the lyrics — “I like smoke and lightning / Heavy metal thunder!” There is debate as whether or not this is the first time that term was used, ultimately becoming a musical genre unto itself, but even if it’s not, it’s certainly the most identifiable. Now go on, get your motor runnin’…time’s a wastin’!

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Watch Steppenwolf Perform ‘Born To Be Wild’

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