The voice of Joachim Fritz Kraudelat is legendary: raw, darkly aggressive and with a special smoky tone. Yet hardly anyone knows the name Kraudelat. The singer has a stage name, John Kay, and his band's name is even more famous: Steppenwolf.
Kraudelat was born in 1944 in East Prussia. After World War II, his family emigrated to Canada. Most Canadians were unable to pronounce his name in school, so that's where the nickname came from.
Lonely like a Steppenwolf
At age 21, he joined the band that would later become Steppenwolf.
The novel of that name by Hermann Hesse tells of a man who feels alienated from modern civilization and is going through an existential crisis.
The band's producer had just read the book and liked the title, so he proposed it as the name. John Kay hadn't read the book yet - nor had the other band members. But no one had a better idea, so the name stuck. In 1969 Steppenwolf conquered the charts with their first hit "Born to Be Wild."
Ever since, people associate the band with hippie bikers riding through the desert on their Harleys.
Not a rebel
John Kay never embodied that lifestyle himself. Born completely color blind, he wouldn't have gotten a motorcycle riding license. The sunglasses he wears at all times are not a rebellious fashion statement but rather a necessity.
Click through the gallery above to find out what other bands that got their names from books.