Speaker John Kay

John Kay

Musician, Founder of Steppenwolf and Activist

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    California, USA

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About Speaker John Kay…

John Kay was born in East Prussia (then part of Germany) at the end of World War II. Trapped behind the iron curtain his first distinct memory is a daring nighttime escape with his mother to West Germany. While growing up in Hanover, John was profoundly affected by the American rock ‘n’ roll he heard on U.S. Armed Forces Radio.  Though he didn’t speak English at the time, the music’s primal energy touched something deep in him, instilling both a driving ideal of personal freedom and an abiding interest in American culture.  In 1958 he immigrated to Canada and continued his love affair with music, performing as a folk and blues singer throughout North America before joining the rock band The Sparrows which became part of the scene happening in Toronto’s Yorkville, later, San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury and finally LA’s Sunset Strip. There in 1967 Kay formed Steppenwolf, which quickly became one of the world’s foremost rock n’ roll bands releasing such standards as “Born to Be Wild,” “Magic Carpet Ride” “Monster”, which today stand amongst Rock’s most indelible anthems.

Supported by an intensely loyal following, John Kay and Steppenwolf continued to record and tour internationally until 2018 which marked the band’s 50th anniversary and their last year of performing. In 2004 John and his wife Jutta had formed the Maue Kay Foundation www.mauekay.org  which focuses on wildlife conservation and human rights. In order to devote their time and energy fully to the foundation’s mission, John and Jutta sold their music business assets in 2010.

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