Peter Fonda, the Oscar-nominated actor whose roles in Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider and Roger Corman’s The Trip made him remembered as an emblematic hippy rebel in the late 1960s, died Friday at the age of 79. The cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer. Fonda’s mother died by suicide in 1950… Her depression was often linked to Peter’s acting style… He decided at an early age that he wanted to become an actor, and after studying at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, his father’s hometown, he began performing in the local theater. His first success was as the lead in Harvey, about an alcoholic who believes he sees a giant rabbit.
Easy Rider was directed by Hopper, the movie cast Fonda and Hopper as free-spirit bikers Wyatt and Billy, who are eager to experience all facets of American life in the Sixties — the good, bad and ugly — while on a mind-expanding road trip. Fonda, in his red, white, and, blue helmet, embodied the figure of “Captain America” and scored an Academy Award nomination for co-writing the script with Hopper and Terry Southern.
Los Angeles band, Steppenwolf had the ride of their lives with “Born To Wild”.. The song played in the opening credits to Easy Rider…It was written by Mars Bonfire, which is the stage name of Dennis Edmonton. He wasn’t a member of the band but his brother Jerry was the band’s drummer. Bonfire wrote a few other songs for Steppenwolf as well, including “Ride With Me” and “Tenderness.”…When the movie was in pre- production, this was simply a placeholder, since Fonda wanted Crosby, Stills and Nash to do the soundtrack; it became clear that the song belonged in the movie, and it stayed. Partly because of it’s use in Easy Rider, this has become the song most associated with motorcycles.With the line “heavy metal thunder,” this became the first popular song to use the phrase “heavy metal,” which became a term for hard rock. William Burroughs is credited with coining the phrase, as he used it in his 1961 novel The Soft Machine, describing his character Uranian Willy as “the Heavy Metal Kid.” Burroughs told The Paris Review: “I felt that heavy metal was sort of the ultimate expression of addiction, that there’s something actually metallic in addiction, that the final stage reached is not so much vegetable as mineral.“Born to Be Wild” was the band’s third single off their 1968 debut album, “Steppenwolf” and became their most successful single, reaching No. 2 on the on Billboards single chart .