Goldy McJohn, the original keyboardist of Steppenwolf, died of heart failure on Aug. 1.

Photo by by Rachel M. Lusby

Photo by by Rachel M. Lusby

The passing of Goldy McJohn: 

As many of you know by now Goldy died suddenly of a heart attack. on August the first. While he had not been a member of Steppenwolf for many years and our relationship since his departure was at times somewhat testy, none of that changes the fact that he was a founding member of the band and his organ playing was and is an important part of the original Steppenwolf sound. Every time our recordings, featuring his performances, are played on the Radio, or by streaming services, or heard on CDs, or as part of a Movie Sound Track, his unique style of playing the organ and creativity will continue to be enjoyed and appreciated by an untold number fans and listeners. We don’t know how long our Music will continue to be played of course, but however long that may be, Goldy’s talent will remain part of that to the very end. We send our condolences to his wife Sonja who was his strength and trusty partner for many, many years. RIP Goldy: JK 

McJohn’s Facebook page issued the following statement:

“Our hearts weep as we announce the passing of Goldy McJohn, Goldy suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack the morning of August 1st, 2017. The family thanks all of those who have protected their privacy leading up to this announcement while they dealt with this unexpected loss.”

Born John Raymond Goadsby on May 2, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, McJohn first performed with Little John and the Friars in 1964. That same year he joined the Mynah Birds, a band that would, at various times, include Rick James, Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield’s Bruce Palmer.

In 1965, he joined the local group the Sparrow, now calling himself Goldy McJohn at the suggestion of singer John Kay. In 1967 that band moved to the West Coast and then split up. Kay, McJohn and drummer Jerry Edmonton formed Steppenwolf, the name taken from the Herman Hesse book.

McJohn was present with his trademark swirling organ on all of Steppenwolf’s major singles and albums, including not only the #2 “Born to Be Wild” but “Magic Carpet Ride” (#3), “Rock Me” (#10), “Monster” (#39), “Hey Lawdy Mama” (#35) and album tracks such as “The Pusher,” “Sookie Sookie,” and others. 

McJohn and Edmonton formed a band called Manbeast in the 1970s. McJohn also worked with Steve Marriott in a latter-day lineup of Humble Pie.

McJohn released the solo albums New VisionsFugue in DGoldy McJohn & FriendzRat City in BlueSet the World on Fire and Osmosis. He also worked with various Steppenwolf-themed bands.

McJohn served as an active mentor for Stand Up for the Music, working closely with HungryGenius managing partner Anthony Spadaro, who said, “Goldy was an amazing soul and an incredible artist, and just plain fun. May his legacy live on forever.”

A memorial is planned for Friday, Aug. 11 at 1 p.m. at Yarington’s/White Center Funeral Home, 10708 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA  98146. 

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