Question & Answer With Guitarists

5 Steppenwolf Guitarists

Michael MonarchMichael Monarch was born in California. As a youth he studied classical piano and drums. Playing in local garage bands, he found guitar and just a little bit later "The Sparrow". This is what he had to say about life before, during, and after Steppenwolf.

Larry Byrom Larry Byrom was born in Alabama and co-wrote a number of songs in the earlier days of the band, including "Hey Lawdy Mama", "Who Needs Ya", "Renegade", "Draft Resister", "Ball Crusher", "Fat Jack", "Fag", Foggy Mental Breakdown", "Earschplittenloudenboomer", and "Hippo Stomp".

Bobby CochranBobby Cochran was born in Minnesota and was the lead guitarist and backing/co-lead vocalist for Steppenwolf from 1972 through 1978. He wrote "Skullduggery" and co-wrote "Just For Tonight", "Get Into The Wind", "Someone Told A Lie", and "Life Is A Gamble".

Rocket RitchotteRocket Ritchotte was born in Texas, but grew up in Massachusetts. His father, a well known country guitarist, performed at the Grand Old Opry, and taught Rocket guitar at age 11. Rocket co-wrote, and co-produced several of the Wolf's more recent recordings.

Danny Johnson Danny Johnson was born in Louisiana. He was 'discovered' at age 18 by Rick Derringer. He played guitar, wrote, and sang on four of Rick's records for CBS. He recently moved to Nashville, and in January 1996, joined forces with 'The Wolf'.

1968 Band Picture

Pictured L to R: Michael Monarch - Rushton Moreve - Jerry Edmonton - John Kay - Goldy McJohn
(1968 Band Picture)

Michael Monarch featured on these recordings:

  • Steppenwolf (1968)
  • The Second (1968)
  • At Your Birthday Party (1969)

Q: What did you do before joining Steppenwolf?

A: I was in a couple of local L.A. bands. There was a band called the Sparrow playing at a couple of clubs on the Sunset Strip. I saw them and liked them. Somehow I met Nick St. Nicholas. He was going off to form his own band but he introduced me to John, Jerry , and Goldy....I ended up going with them. I had only been playing guitar for about a year. So started my journey on learning to play the guitar with Steppenwolf.

Q: What was your most memorable experience with Steppenwolf?

A: There are so many. We played everywhere. We headlined at The Forum in Los Angeles. We played all across the country. Europe was interesting. We played at a place called "The Marquee Club" with Howlin Wolf. I remember when we were in New York doing our first promotional tour, riding in a car and hearing "Born To Be Wild" on the radio. It was nice hearing it without having to turn on a tape.

Q: What was your least memorable experience?

A: I would say more of the good times are what stood out. There were painful times in the studio when things didn't work out right. There were some really bad gigs we shouldn't have been booked into. There was one, somewhere in the south where we were booked to play this place with no doors. It was kind of like a swamp. There wasn't a real stage. Nothing was right about the place right down to the electricity. We didn't want to play but we had to.

Q: What have you been doing since leaving Steppenwolf?

A: After Steppenwolf, I played in a band called Detective. I got to know, and get into the inner circle with the Led Zeppelin people. Led Zeppelin was doing a US tour and I was privileged to go along with them for a couple of weeks. I toured with them and stayed with Jimmy Page. I was in England for awhile and worked with Roger Glover from Deep Purple. After Detective, I worked with Andy Frazier the bass player from "Free". I had a local band called Steel Monarch. At the moment I have my own band called Steven's and Monarch. It's a country band. I became interested in country dancing. My girlfriend and partner dance competitively. I teach some dancing too.

Q: Any final comments for the Wolf fans?

A: All you sick people who still want to go after Steppenwolf, you mean? (Ha Ha, only kidding) to them I'll say "Keep On Rockin" !!

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1970 - Royal Albert Hall

Pictured L to R: Goldy McJohn - Larry Byrom - John Kay - Jerry Edmonton - George Biondo
(1970 - Royal Albert Hall)

Larry Byrom featured on these recordings:

  • Monster (1970)
  • Steppenwolf Live (1971)
  • Steppenwolf 7 (1971)

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born in Huntsville, AL but I grew up in South Bend, Indiana and lived there through my first year of high school

Q: What were you doing before joining Steppenwolf?

A: I did three shows with "Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars" in a band called "The Precious Few". A guy by the name of Rudy Romero was playing in a band on the "Where The Action Is" TV Show, heard me play and invited me out to California to join the group. The band broke up and a guy by the name of Bill Richardson and I, along with Nick St. Nicholas formed a group called T.I.M.E. (Trust in Men Everywhere) T.I.M.E. turned out to be a farm band for Steppenwolf. Nick replaced Rushton Moreve and eventually I replaced Michael Monarch.

Q: What is your most memorable experience with Steppenwolf?

A: There are two I can recall. One was Baltimore. The venue we played had some sort of curfew law. The opening act started late, and so did we. Right in the middle of the set, in the middle of a song, the power was shut off. Jerry Edmonton walked up to the person who shut off the power, shook his fist in his face and said, "You turn the power back on, or we're gonna blow this place up." It worked! Power was restored and we were able to finish the show. Another experience that comes to mind was one of our trips to Germany. It used to be a practice in German hotels to leave your shoes out in the hall. One night, Goldy McJohn & I went around and nailed everybody's shoes to the floor!!

Q: What have you been doing since leaving Steppenwolf?

A: I formed a group called "Ratchell". It was an acoustic, Crosby, Stills & Nash type of sound. The band didn't workout so I moved back to Huntsville, where I soon learned of the music being recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I went to Muscle Shoals and started recording in the studio for R&B acts, such as Wilson Pickett. I moved back to L.A. in 1979 and started doing work with motion pictures. A friend of mine named Even Stephens introduced me to Eddie Rabbit. I recorded with Eddie and they talked me into moving to Nashville. I've been doing freelance session work ever since with Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandrell, Lorrie Morgan, Clint Black and Steve Winwood.

Q: Anything else that you'd like to add for the Wolf fans here on the Internet?

A: I'm very pleased that the Wolf is still commanding the crowds, and the music is still appreciated. And I'm very happy to have been a part of what I think is one of history's better rock & roll groups.

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1974 Band Picture

Pictured L to R: Jerry Edmonton - John Kay - Bobby Cochran - George Biondo - Andy Chapin
(1974 Band Picture)

Bobby Cochran

Check out Bobby Cochran's website here. featured on these recordings:

  • Slow Flux (1974)
  • Hour Of The Wolf (1975)
  • Skullduggery (1976)

Q: How did you become interested in music?

A: My Uncle, Eddie Cochran, I'm sure had a lot to do with it. He was famous for "Summertime Blues" I'd hear him on the radio and it was a big deal.. Ronnie Ennis (one of uncle Eddie's friends) showed me what Eddie taught him. I was 9 ½ when he was killed in England. I started playing at 12½, got my first gig a couple of weeks later and have been playing every since.

Q: When did you join Steppenwolf?

A: In 1972. Prior to Steppenwolf, I was in a group called Kindred. We were signed to the same management as Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf. Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night was producing us and we were opening for them. That's when Steppenwolf heard me play. I remember that Jerry or Goldy called me and wanted to get together and just play. After a few times, they decided they wanted to get together and have all of us play. At the time Steppenwolf had disbanded but they were getting serious about re-instituting the Wolf to do concerts and records. One of the last guitar players with the band, (who also worked on John's initial solo project) was Kent Henry. He was also an old friend of mine. After I was asked to join the Wolf I called Kent to get some advice. After I told him that I had joined Steppenwolf, I realized that Kent didn't know that he had been replaced. It was really an awkward moment.

Q: What's your most memorable experience with Steppenwolf?

A: My experience with Steppenwolf was a lot of fun. It's hard to say because there were so many great experiences. We had our share of arguments, but there was a level of integrity and sort of a sense of a mission. We always tried to do a good job, a class job, and worked our butts of to do it.

Q: What have you been doing since leaving Steppenwolf?

A: I initially joined a group called "The Flying Burrito Brothers", then "Bobby And The Midnights" for about 6 years. We had a few albums out on Arista and Columbia records. Now I have my own rock band called Bobby Cochran and The Rhythm Rockers. I've also got a rock 'n' roll show called The Rock Around The Clock Show. It varies from 3 to 21 pieces and is very entertaining. We do tributes to people like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, and Elvis. I also do a lot of recording and I just produced a guy by the name of Adrian Legg. The first album we did was voted acoustic guitar album of the year, and Adrian was voted as best guitar player.

Q: What memories did you come away from Steppenwolf with?

A: I had a blast with Steppenwolf. Jerry Edmonton and I spoke about an hour and a half one day just reliving old war stories. Seeing John and the guys again was a lot of fun.

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1985 Band Picture

Pictured L to R: Rocket Ritchotte - Michael Wilk - John Kay - Ron Hurst
(1985 Band Picture)

Rocket Ritchotte featured on these recordings:

  • Rock'N'Roll Rebels (1987)
  • Rise & Shine (1990)
  • Live At 25 (1995)
  • Feed The Fire (1996)

Q: How did you get involved with Steppenwolf?

A: One day, I got a call from Michael Wilk saying that John was looking for a new guitarist. I auditioned and got the gig in 1985.

Q: What other artists have you worked with?

A: I toured with Cher as a member of "The Black Rose Band", Rickie Lee Jones, Celio & Kapono, and David Lee Roth. I've also recorded with Cher, Rick Springfield, Gino Vanelli, and David Lee Roth, and appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Midnight Special, Merv Griffin, Tom Snyder, and The Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson).

Q: What did you do after leaving the band?

A: I left Steppenwolf in the fall of 1993, and shortly thereafter rejoined and toured with the David Lee Roth band. We played a gig in Michigan with Steppenwolf the next year!

Q: Did you do any recording with Dave after re-joining the band?

A: Demo's were cut, but nothing was released. One song off those sessions called "Bad Habit" is featured in the movie "Sgt Bilko" starring Steve Martin.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: I have a solo project in the works. It's untitled as of now, but the release date is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 1997, on "Worrior" records. The new release will feature the talents of drummers Gregg Bissonette, Mike Baird and Ron Wikso, former Steppenwolf keyboardist Brett Tuggle and Vince DiCola.

Q: Anything you'd like to say to the Wolf fans here on the Internet?

A: Watch for my own web page coming in the spring of 1997!

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1996 Band Picture

Pictured L to R: John Kay - Michael Wilk - Danny Johnson - Ron Hurst
(1996 Band Picture)

Danny Johnson featured on this recording:

  • Feed The Fire (1996)

Q: When did you first become interested in music?

A: As a little kid at 12, one day when the sun was going down, I remember exactly when it hit me. I heard someone playing "House Of The Rising Sun" was my cousin Robert Johnson (he ironically has the same name as the blues legend) playing it....and I said "If he can play it, I can play it" So he taught me House Of The Rising Sun, Louie Louie, and Born to be Wild...his band played them all.

Q: Who were your musical influences?

A: All the guys that played good (ha-ha)....All the blues legends, and of course Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page.

Q: What were you doing before Steppenwolf?

A: Over the years, I've played and recorded with a lot great people: Rick Derringer, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, and others. I especially enjoyed working with Eddie Van Halen who, along with Ted Templeman, produced 2 albums for a band I was in called "Private Life". We were on Warner Brothers Records at the time. I've also worked on the movies "Wayne's World", "Gremlins" and "Fade To Black".

Q: What are your initial feelings about being part of Steppenwolf, it's history, legacy, etc?

A. It's a great honor. John has always been one of my favorite singers. I'm a psychedelic blues/rocker, and this feels like home.

Q: How was your first year of touring with The Wolf?

A. I can't say enough good things....its really nice being in a band with people you want to see every day and play music with.

Q: What will you be doing in the off season?

A: I'll be finishing up my new CD. I already have the first 4 songs completed. They were recorded and mixed by Michael Slamer (who has worked with Mutt Lange). I'll be going back down to Shreveport to record 4 songs at Rockhouse Productions, and I've already recorded 2 others at Phantom South in Nashville, with Michael Wilk producing and engineering, & Ron Hurst and Guy DeVito playing drums and bass. We'll master the whole thing in December, and have it out in early 1997.

Q: Anything you'd like to say to the Steppenwolf fans here on Internet?

A: Watch for my Internet home page early next year !!!

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