Born to Be Wild

"Born to Be Wild" is a song written by Mars Bonfire and first performed by the band Steppenwolf. The song is often invoked in both popular and counter culture to denote a biker appearance or attitude. It is most notably featured in the 1969 film Easy Rider. It is sometimes described as the first heavy metal song, and the second verse lyric "heavy metal thunder" marks the first use of this term in rock music (although not as a description of a musical style but rather a motorcycle).[6]

"Born to Be Wild"
Born to-be wild-steppenwolf-45.jpg
Single by Steppenwolf
from the album Steppenwolf
B-side"Everybody's Next One"
ReleasedJune 1968[1]
  • 3:30
  • 3:02 (7-inch)
Songwriter(s)Mars Bonfire
Producer(s)Gabriel Mekler
Steppenwolf singles chronology
"A Girl I Knew"
"Born to Be Wild"
"The Pusher"


"Born to Be Wild" was written by Mars Bonfire as a ballad.[7] Bonfire was previously a member of the Sparrows, the predecessor band to Steppenwolf, and his brother was Steppenwolf's drummer. Although he initially offered the song to other bands — The Human Expression, for one[8] — "Born to Be Wild" was first recorded by Steppenwolf in a sped-up and rearranged version that AllMusic's Hal Horowitz described as "a roaring anthem of turbo-charged riff rock" and "a timeless radio classic as well as a slice of '60s revolt that at once defines Steppenwolf's sound and provided them with their shot at AM immortality."[7]

Release and receptionEdit

"Born to Be Wild" was the band's third single off their 1968 debut album Steppenwolf, and became their most successful single, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. It was kept from the No. 1 spot by "People Got to Be Free" by the Rascals.[9] In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed "Born to Be Wild" at No. 129 on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.[10] Also in 2004, it finished at No. 29 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. In 2009, it was named the 53rd best hard rock song of all time by VH1.[11] In 2018, the song was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a new category for singles.[12]


Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1968) Rank
Canada (RPM Top Singles)[23] 14
US Billboard Hot 100[24] 31

Cover versionsEdit

"Born to Be Wild"
Single by Kim Wilde
B-side"All About Me"
Length3:23 (Radio Mix)
Songwriter(s)Mars Bonfire
Producer(s)Ricki Wilde
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"Born to Be Wild"
"Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime"
Music video
"Born to Be Wild" on YouTube

In 1985, the song was covered by Australian band Rose Tattoo. Their version peaked at No. 25 in Australia.[25] In 2002, it was covered by Kim Wilde and released as a non-album single. Her cover reached No. 84 in Germany[26] and No. 71 in Switzerland.[27] Tanja Dexters also covered the song in 2002. Her version peaked at No. 21 in Belgium.[28]

Other artists that covered this song include Hinder,[29] Etta James,[30] Link Wray,[30] Slade,[31] The Cult,[32] INXS,[30] Ozzy Osbourne with Miss Piggy,[33] Bruce Springsteen,[30] Slayer,[34] Blue Öyster Cult,[30] Status Quo,[30] Fanfare Ciocărlia,[35] Krokus,[36] Wilson Pickett,[30] La Renga[37] and Jess Greenberg.[38]


Rose Tattoo versionEdit

Chart (1985) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[25] 25

Kim Wilde versionEdit

Chart (2002) Peak
Germany (Official German Charts)[26] 84
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 71

Tanja Dexter versionEdit

Chart (2002) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[28] 21

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "U.S. Metal's Lost Legends". Record Collector. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Inglis, Ian (2003). Popular Music and Film. Wallflower Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-903364-71-0. Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild', a gritty, hard rock song that quickly became an anthem for defiant individualism.
  3. ^ "Heavy Metal". Billboard. Vol. 99 no. 18. May 10, 1986. p. H-1. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ Dimery, Robert (2011). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-84403-717-9.
  5. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (1996). Waiting For the Sun: The Story of the Los Angeles Music Scene. Viking. p. 172. The brilliant soundtrack, including the Byrds' 'Wasn't Born to Follow', Steppenwolf's proto-metal 'Born to be Wild', and Jimi Hendrix's 'If Six Was Nine', helped to set the film in a kind of outlaw-rock'n'roll context.
  6. ^ Walser, Robert (1993). Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6260-9.
  7. ^ a b Horowitz, Hal. "Born to Be Wild – Song Review". AllMusic.
  8. ^ The Human Expression: Love at Psychedelic Velocity (Media notes). Collectables Records. 1994.
  9. ^ "The Hot 100". Billboard. August 24, 1968. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  10. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1–500)". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 20, 2006.
  11. ^ "Vh1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs". January 1, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  12. ^ Graff, Gary (April 14, 2018). "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducts Songs for the First Time, Including 'Born to Be Wild' & 'Louie Louie'". Billboard. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  13. ^ " – Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  14. ^ a b " – Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  15. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5856." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  16. ^ " – Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c "Nederlandse Top 40 – Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  18. ^ "Search listener". Flavour of New Zealand. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  20. ^ "Steppenwolf – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  21. ^ a b " – Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  22. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  23. ^ "The RPM 100: Top Singles of 1968". RPM. Vol. 10 no. 19.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1968". Longbored Surfer. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  26. ^ a b " – Kim Wilde – Born To Be Wild". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  27. ^ a b " – Kim Wilde – Born To Be Wild". Swiss Singles Chart.
  28. ^ a b " – Tania Dexter – Born To Be Wild" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  29. ^ Johnston, Maura (December 11, 2009). "The 50 Worst Songs of the '00s, F2K No. 15: Hinder, "Born To Be Wild"". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g Leszczak, Bob (2014). Who Did It First?: Great Rock and Roll Cover Songs and Their Original Artists. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-4422-3321-8.
  31. ^ Cook, Stephen. "Slade – Slade Alive!". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  32. ^ Raggett, Ned. "The Cult – Electric". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  33. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Ozzy Osbourne – Prince of Darkness". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  34. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Various Artists – NASCAR on Fox: Crank It Up". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  35. ^ Phares, Heather. "Original Soundtrack – Borat [Original Soundtrack]". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  36. ^ Eremenko, Alexey. "Krokus – Hoodoo". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  37. ^ "El día en que LA RENGA hizo estallar el Víctor Jara por primera vez" (in Spanish). July 9, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  38. ^ Marano, Francesco (September 24, 2015). ""Stairway To Heaven" Jess Greenberg (Led Zeppelin Cover) [YouTube Official Music Video]". Zumic. Retrieved November 17, 2017.

External linksEdit