John Raymond Goadsby (May 2, 1945 – August 1, 2017), known as Goldy McJohn, was a Canadiankeyboard player best known as the original keyboardist for rock group Steppenwolf. Originally a classically trained pianist, he was a pioneer in the early use of the electronic organ (Hammond B3) in heavy metal. He was also an avid golfer.
McJohn was born John Raymond Goadsby to middle class parents in Toronto, Canada. They enrolled him in piano lessons at a young age which eventually enabled him to become a pioneer in the use of the electronic organ in rock and roll. I was up at 4 a.m. daily to practice from the age of seven until…I got stupid.” “I was classically trained.I played on a Lowrey” which eventually gave songs such as “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” their unique sound.
In 1964, Goldy McJohn played with local band, Little John & The Friars before moving on later that year to become a member of the Mynah Birds, which also included Rick James, Bruce Palmer and (after McJohn left) Neil Young. In March 1965, he briefly joined The Diplomats before joining The Sparrows in September of that year. John Kay asked him if he could be known as “Goldy” while riding the bus to Willowdale. Goldy felt “Goldy Goadsby” would not be right, so in honor of his mother, Dorothy (née) McIntyre, Goldy added the “Mc” to his legal first name, creating his stage name. The band (with various changes) went on to become Steppenwolf and he remained with the group from 1967 to early 1975 when he was fired by Kay.
During Steppenwolf’s hiatus in the early 1970s, he and Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton formed Manbeast with Rod Prince and Roy Cox of Bubble Puppy, during which time the band penned at least one song that would appear on Steppenwolf’s 1974 release, Slow Flux, Goldy’s last with the band.
McJohn helped reform Steppenwolf in 1977 with Nick St. Nicholas and Kent Henry and played in several incarnations of the band. He also played with Steve Marriott in a reconstituted version of Humble Pie.
McJohn lived in Burien, Washington with his wife Sonja. His solo releases include New Visions, Fugue in D, Goldy McJohn & Friendz, Rat City in Blue, Set the World on Fire and Osmosis. Since 2008 Goldy performed with a national band under the names, Born To Be Wild Tour, Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride and Gm and Friendz.
McJohn died of a heart attack on August 1, 2017.
- Lusby, Rachel M. “‘Ay Man’ It’s Goldy McJohn! And He Is, In Fact, Still Alive In The Burien Area”. b-townblog.com. South King Media. Archived from the original on 2016-01-26. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
- Gallucci, Michael (August 3, 2017). “Goldy McJohn, Original Steppenwolf Keyboardist, Dies at 72”. Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017.