This was written for a friend of the band who died of a drug overdose.
The song was first played by a Canadian group called The Sparrows, who played it as a long jam during their concerts. Steppenwolf recorded a much shorter, more radio-friendly version.
Along with Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild,” this was featured in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. The film is considered a landmark of ’60s counterculture, and using this song in the movie was important because it portrayed the downside of doing drugs.
The lyrics certainly “pushed” the limits as to what was acceptable for broadcast in 1968. It was far from the first song to make abundant and obvious drug references, but it was the first major release to include the phrase “God damn,” which appears in the line, “God damn the pusher man.” This song is about a drug dealer. It is one of the first songs to deal with harsh realities of drug use, and condemns as the dealer as heartless criminal who is only after your money. it says “He will sell you lots of sweet dreams and he’s a “monster” who doesn’t care “if you live or if you die”. he’s known as the Pusher
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