Writer shares her thoughts on the passing of Steppenwolf’s Goldy McJohn


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By Rachel Lusby

As many of you probably now have heard, the world lost an amazing musician recently – Goldy McJohn, original keyboardist and founding member of Steppenwolf, the band that brought us songs such as “Born to Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride,” passed away on August 1st.

I had the privilege several years back of writing a whole profile on Goldy for The B-Town Blog. We had discovered he lived in the south Seattle area, and jumped at the chance to meet him. This was about 4 or 5 years ago. Since the day I interviewed him, we have been friends. His sudden passing weighs heavily on my heart, and this is why I decided to write something in his honor.

Goldy was a fascinating individual, and a big personality. The first time I met him he was so excited for me to be there, and to talk about his passion. His excitement for life was contagious. He told me about growing up and being a trained classical pianist, and how, from there, he got into rock and roll music. He talked about various bands he was in prior to Steppenwolf, including one with the late great Rick James called “The Mynah Birds.” He hopped on his piano and showed me a bit of his talent. I even was sent home with a great photo of Steppenwolf, signed by him in a gold pen. This has hung on my wall since the day I got it.

Over the years I became friends with Goldy. I know that is probably a bit odd, a woman as young as I am being friends with a man of Goldy’s age, but he had the energy of someone far younger. He invited me to one of his big birthday celebrations, and it was one of the most fun nights of my life. He jammed with people, playing some classic rock tunes and some of his own from Steppenwolf. He was so talented on the keyboard, I thought he could probably play in his sleep.

I will miss Goldy dearly. I’ll miss his sporadic messages on Facebook, just asking how I’m doing, and what’s new, and him telling me about any project he was working on at the moment.

Regardless of what anyone may have heard about the person Goldy was, I can say with full confidence from first hand knowledge, that Goldy was a caring individual, whose musical talents still bring joy to people’s lives.

To those others who loved him, especially his lovely wife, I offer you my condolences. As the old Righteous Brothers song goes, “If there’s a rock n roll heaven, well you know they’ve got a hell of a band.”

NOTE: A memorial is planned for Friday, Aug. 11 at 1 p.m. at Yarington’s/White Center Funeral Home:

Friday, August 11, 2017
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Yarington’s/White Center Funeral Home
10708 16th Ave Sw
Seattle, WA 98146
(206) 242-2771

Here’s a video tribute to Goldy:

And a video of him playing at Forest Ledge in Seahurst:

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Comments

7 Responses to “Writer shares her thoughts on the passing of Steppenwolf’s Goldy McJohn”
  1. Clean it up! says:

    Rachel, just wanted to thank you for your tribute to Goldy McJohn. I did not know him, yet he create a resilient part of the soundtrack to my life. I enjoyed the video. May he rest in peace.

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  2. Rachel says:

    Thank you. I’m grateful to have been his friend.

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  3. Steve Dugan says:

    Thanks for this tribute to Goldy. I was 12 when Born to Be Wild was released. It’s was the first Rock and Roll record I bought. Been a fan since.His keyboards were a big part of Steppwolfs success

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  4. Mark Neuman says:

    Rachel – What a lovely and thoughtful remembrance of Goldy. Well done. You are a wonderful writer. You captured his spirit beautifully. – Mark

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  5. gary draper says:

    Hi Rachel,
    That was a very nice tribute you wrote for him….thank-you. He was a good friend and I always enjoyed the times we hung out together. His memory and his music will live on for many, many years to come.

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  6. Glen Newby says:

    Very powerful tribute, thanks so much. My early days with Sparrow in Yorkville, Toronto and then Steppenwolf over the past 50 years have been a HUGE part of my life. John did a wonderful tribute to Goldy at the Ryan during Wolfest 2017 this past weekend. Music mends everything.

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