As one of the most underrated drummers in rock, Jerry Edmonton was the man with the “Born To Be Wild” beat. The Canadian drummer with Steppenwolf influenced more fellow percussionists than he’s ever given credit for.
Edmonton sadly died in a car accident in 1993 when he was just 47, but his drumming left a permanent mark on rock fans from the late 1960s onwards. Born Gerald McCrohan on October 24, 1946 in Oshawa, Ontario, he was the brother of Dennis, better known in the Steppenwolf legend as Mars Bonfire, the man who wrote the timeless, era-evoking mega-hit of 1968, “Born To Be Wild.”
“Jerry was not just our drummer,” said Steppenwolf frontman John Kay in later years. “He wrote songs, he sang some of the songs. But perhaps more than anything else, being the drummer, he was able to provide rhythm, and sit in the middle of the band and hear the band from a perspective that none of us other guys could. I was either singing and/or playing guitar, so you’re listening to what you’re doing and the rest of the guys around you, you hear as a secondary thing. Jerry could hear the whole band, almost as a conductor.”
Edmonton was with the band through their glory years and, after a hiatus from 1972 in which he played with the bands Seven and Manbeast, he was back for Steppenwolf’s 1974 reunion which produced three more albums. Jerry, who also went on to pursue his interest in photography, was the writer of Steppenwolf’s last American chart single, the 1974 top 30 hit “Straight Shootin’ Woman.” He was the backbone of a rock institution that sold some 25 million records worldwide.
“Born To Be Wild” and more great drum work by Jerry Edmonton can be found on the album Steppenwolf, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Steppenwolf Best Of playlist.