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Today in the Paste Vault, we’re reaching back 49 years years to Aug. 28, 1968, when
Steppenwolf pulled in to San Francisco for a show at the Fillmore West.
Playing the second night of a three-night run at the Fillmore (with an early, pre-signed incarnation of Santana opening, followed by The Staple Singers), Steppenwolf was just beginning to taste some commercial success thanks to the single off their debut album, “Born to Be Wild.” Also on the album was “The Pusher,” a psychedelic song originally written by Hoyt Axton about the important distinction between weed “dealers” (groovy) and heroin “pushers” (not groovy).
The song hit the mainstream a year later when it soundtracked the opening scene of the iconic film Easy Rider, with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (pictured above) orchestrating a coke deal (where would that fit on the “Pusher” spectrum?) on a tarmac and stuffing the proceeds into his stars-and-stripes motorcycle. The live Fillmore version rocks and sways like the recording, with a sweet organ and some nasty guitar squelch standing in for the opposing “Dealer” vs. “Pusher” roles.