|Single by Steppenwolf|
|from the album Steppenwolf|
|B-side||"Your Wall's Too High"|
|Genre||Blues rock, psychedelic rock|
|Steppenwolf singles chronology|
The lyrics of the song distinguish between a dealer in drugs such as marijuana—who "will sell you lots of sweet dreams"—and a pusher of hard drugs such as heroin—a "monster" who doesn't care "if you live or if you die".
Organist Goldy McJohn, who recorded the original Steppenwolf version, said the version that appears on Early Steppenwolf performed by The Sparrows, a predecessor band to Steppenwolf in 1967 at the Matrix came about when singer John Kay and Jerry Edmonton were late for a performance:
- Nick and Mars and me started that long version of the Pusher. John and Jerry's flight was late one night at the Avalon Ballroom, so we started and then we perfected it at the "Arc" in Sausalito on New Year's Eve in 1966.
- Songwriter Hoyt Axton did not place "The Pusher" on one of his albums until he included it on his 1971 album Joy to the World but his version of the song was released in May of 1969 on a various-artists mail-order album called First Vibration.
- Nina Simone included a soulful version of this song on her 1974 album It Is Finished and on the RCA "Novus Series 70" titled "Nina Simone ~~ The Blues. Originally recorded June 1971.
- Blind Melon recorded a version that was the opening track on their 1996 album Nico although the lyrics were heavily rewritten by the band's frontman Shannon Hoon.
- Young Flowers DR Sessions, recorded July 22, 1969
- Left Lane Cruiser, in album "Beck in Black", 2016
In popular culture
- This song appeared in the movie and soundtrack Easy Rider, along with Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild".
- A part of the song's chorus — "I said God Damn. God Damn" — is quoted by Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) after she does cocaine in a scene from the movie Pulp Fiction.
- The song is heard in Tropic Thunder (2008) during the scene where, while the group rests in the jungle, Jeff (Jack Black) has his drugs stolen by a bat.
- This song appeared on Episode 6, Season 9 of Top Gear
- The song appeared in Episode 22 Season 15 of Heartbeat
- "Favorite song Jerry sang" (HTML). GoldyMcJohn.com. Retrieved 2007-12-06.