God damn the pusher man

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 min­utes.

THOSE OF US OLD ENOUGH to have at least wit­nessed “the Sixties”—even if only as teenagers watching it happen all around us—remember that there was a time when the terms “dealer” and “pusher” were NOT syn­ony­mous. A dealer sold only “good” drugs—“head drugs”—like mar­i­juana, hash, and the oc­ca­sional psy­che­delic (mostly LSD). 1

A pusher, on the other hand, sold the hard stuff (read “ad­dic­tive”), the “bad” drugs: the opi­ates (usu­ally heroin) and speed (usu­ally meth). This was so well un­der­stood that the rock group Step­pen­wolf even recorded a song about it. While never a hit single, it re­ceived count­less spins as an LP track in 1968 on the then new “un­der­ground” FM sta­tions. 2

For your lis­tening, reading and learning pleasure(s), I have in­cluded here a video (a rather staid bit of er­satz psy­che­delia) of the recording fol­lowed by the lyrics to the song, written by Hoyt Axton:

You know I smoked a lot of grass .
Oh Lord, I popped a lot of pills.
But I’ve never touched nothing
 that my spirit could kill.

You know I’ve seen a lot of people 
walking around
with tomb­stones in their eyes .
But the pusher don’t care
 if you live or if you die.

God damn the pusher . . .
God damn I say the pusher . . .
I say God damn, God damn the pusher man!

You know the dealer is a man
 with a lot of grass in his hand.
But the pusher is a mon­ster, he’s not a nat­ural man.

The dealer, for a nickel, he’ll sell you lots of sweet dreams
But the pusher’ll ruin your body,
he’ll leave your mind to scream.

God damn the pusher . . .
God damn, God damn the pusher . . .
I said God damn, God damn the pusher man!

Well, Lord, if I were the pres­i­dent of this land,
you know I’d de­clare total war on the pusher-man

I’d cut him if he stands and I’d shoot him if he’d run,
and I’d kill him with my Bible and my razor and my gun.

God damn the pusher . . .
God damn the pusher . . .
I said God damn, God damn the pusher man!

I don’t be­lieve that any other rock or pop song dealt so di­rectly or so harshly with the sellers of hard drugs.

The Avid Record Collector

Steppenwolf’s first album STEPPENWOLF was is­sued in early Jan­uary 1968 by Dun­hill in mono (D-50029) and stereo (DS-50029). The front cover had a silver foil-like finish that usu­ally shows wear poorly, con­se­quently the con­di­tion of the jacket is im­por­tant to the value of the album. Finding a copy of the album without wear on the front cover is nigh on impossible.


Ini­tial print­ings of the jacket (first re­leased in Jan­uary 1968) had a silver foil-like cov­ering on the front cover and made no men­tion of the single Born To Be Wild (be­cause Dun­hill hadn’t the sense to re­lease it as a single until May) and looked like the mono copy above. Sug­gested NM value for mono and stereo al­bums without the “Born To Be Wild” sicker is $40-60. (See note below.)


Re­leased in May 1968, the third single from the first album didn’t reach the na­tional charts until July, spending three weeks at #2 be­hind the Ras­cals’ Got To Be Free on both Bill­board and Cash Box.  First press­ings of Born To Be Wild (Dun­hill 4138) were on the Dun­hill label. A rather rare record in­deed with a sug­gested NM value of $50-100.

BornToBeWild ABC

Shortly after its re­lease, parent com­pany ABC Records changed the la­bels to Born To Be Wild by adding their logo along­side the Dun­hill logo. These second press­ings make up the bulk of the million-plus sales of the title in the US and are easy to find in col­lec­table con­di­tion, al­though NM copies have a sug­gested value of $15-20.


After the single be­came a hit in the summer of ’68, a sticker noting the in­clu­sion of Born To Be Wild was af­fixed to the jackets (the stereo album above). Meaning copies of this album with the sticker were prob­ably is­sued in Sep­tember or Oc­tober, eight months after the album’s ini­tial re­lease, meaning they are not tech­ni­cally “first press­ings.” Sug­gested NM value for mono and stereo al­bums with the “Born To Be Wild” sicker is $30-40.

Steppenwolf LP ABC

After ABC Records ac­quired Dun­hill Records in late 1967, they began using the new logo (the abc-rainbow en­gulfing the fa­miliar Dun­hill arch) on new LPs al­most im­me­di­ately. But the in­ven­tory of al­ready printed Dun­hill la­bels was large enough to last into mid-’68. So while the Step­pen­wolf album was is­sued six months be­fore Born To Be Wild, first press­ings of the LP fea­tured the new la­bels and are easily found on the used market.

Ap­par­ently many press­ings of the mono record (D-50029) have one side in mono and the other in  stereo—and it varies from record to record. Copies with both sides in mono have a sug­gested NM value of $75-150.

Steppenwolf in England 

In some coun­tries, this album was man­u­fac­tured as an ABC record. In others, it was man­u­fac­tured and dis­trib­uted by RCA, no­tably Eng­land. Most of the al­bums re­leased abroad were more or less iden­ti­cally pack­aged as the US album and are only of in­terest to diehard Step­pen­wolf col­lec­tors. Below are a few exceptions . . .

steppenwolf France Car

In France, the album jacket car­ried a photo of what ap­pears to be a ’57 Ford Pop­ular, a model man­u­fac­tured for the Eng­lish market be­tween 1953-1962. Oddly, the type of men as­so­ci­ated with mod­i­fying and racing cars of this vin­tage were the op­po­site of the men as­so­ci­ated with Harley-Davidson, who are the ones usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the song Born To Be Wild (the movie Easy Rider ce­menting that re­la­tion­ship forever).



STEPPENWOLF was first is­sued in the UK by RCA Victor in mono (RD-7974) with the older RCA la­bels that had a red circle above the spindle hole. Based on sev­eral sales on eBay be­tween 2004-2011, I would hazard an es­ti­mated NM value of $100-200. That is a “haz­arded” guess, as the con­di­tions of the records sold car­ried and some sold without stan­dard (or even un­der­stand­able) grades as­signed them.

First stereo press­ings came a little later and had the newer RCA la­bels without the “red spot.” A later mono pressing with the or­ange la­bels (which began in 1969 in the UK) is worth con­sid­er­ably less ($30-40).

Steppenwolf Stateside

After RCA, the album was man­u­fac­tured and dis­trib­uted in Eng­land by State­side. First pressing records have black la­bels and are not easy to find. Later press­ings on the or­ange label etc. are common.


BornToBeWild PS 1973b

Born To Be Wild was cou­pled with The Pusher on the ABC/Dunhill Goldies 45 reissue im­print in 1973. First press­ings were shipped with this pic­ture sleeve, tying the songs in with Easy Rider. Hard to find sleeve with a sug­gested NM value of $40-60.



1   I was 15-years old during the Summer of Love and kept my vir­ginity and my straight­ness (dope ref­er­ence there, not sexual) until the year of Wood­stock and Al­ta­mont. For many people in the US, the “Six­ties” that was hap­pening in San Fran­cisco and London didn’t happen until the early ’70s.

2   This ar­ticle was orig­i­nally posted on No­vember 13, 2013, as part of an ar­ticle ti­tled “just how many people have died from a mar­i­juana over­dose and what does step­pen­wolf have to do with this?” That ar­ticle was edited and ex­panded and had all of the im­ages added to be­come the ar­ticle on this page. 


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I found most of these in the flea market for a buck or less ….

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