Gabriel Mekler has a long list of historic credits available at AllMusic.
by Walter Price
The late 1960’s and far into the 70’s music was spreading its wings. It was becoming more acceptable to hear sounds outside of what your station in life probably would have dictated. If you take my household, for example, we (my mom) had a vinyl collection that traveled from Patsy Cline and Dr. Hook to Haggard and Rolling Stones. With varied and eclectic stops along the way.
You knew the historic names from the popular genres at the time, Etta James, Three Dog Night, Janis Joplin, Nolan Porter, Steppenwolf, and Donovan. To name just a few. But did you know there was a guy whose name is widely unknown, that helped shape these mentioned artists and changed the way we hear music? His name was Gabriel Mekler and without him, we would be a different world.
Mekler, a Palestinian piano virtuoso, moved to America in the 60’s with a dream. A dream to become a record producer. Regardless of any former training or know how. But what did have was the gumption to give it a go. And that is how America used to work. If you wanted something, you went for it. The American dream was real.
For all you Metal-heads, Mekler was behind the song that introduced the world to the term ‘heavy metal”. The song was “Born To Be Wild” and the band was Steppenwolf. Bet you didn’t know that and if you had, you’re smart and obviously a music nerd. Welcome my friend.
I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space
Unfortunately, Gabriel Mekler died in a motorcycle accident in 1977 at a young age. But his indelible mark on music and pop cultures will live on. Let’s check out three tracks that this unsung sonic hero left us all to love and soundtrack our road trips for decades past and future.
Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
Janis Joplin – Kozmic Blues
Three Dog Night – One
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