Wolfman Jack – The Original Shock Jock!
JANUARY 01: Photo of Wolfman Jack (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Wolfman Jack was a famous rock and roll disk jockey that was best recognized by his gravely, raspy voice and his unmistakable, Wolfman howl. He was/is quite possibly one of the best-known and most successful radio personalities of our time.
The Wolfman was born, Robert Smith. Although his given name was considered very ordinary, the man himself was anything but! He briefly went by the name “Daddy Jules” on air for a radio station in Norfolk, Virginia but I’m sure not many would remember that.
Smith would soon be known as, Wolfman Jack, the host of a then-unusual genre of radio station called, border radio. It was dubbed border radio because it was broadcast just over the border from Mexico but could be heard in the States. He spun the latest vinyl in rock and roll on a nighttime radio show in Mexico. Soon he moved back to the States but continued to send taped broadcasts back to Mexico to be aired.
He was somewhat of a pioneer in this field because it was like no other radio program known in the States at the time. Given the fact that the show was broadcast from Mexico, he was not governed by the same rules that American radio stations were required to adhere to. Moral standards were much more relaxed in Mexico at the time.
He was able to do things other disc jockeys couldn’t get away with. The Wolfman was known to howl and bark out lewd, crazy statements and orders to his listeners. Despite this, he was still being heard on the radio.
He was said to have been every bit as wildly animated during his studio broadcasts as he sounded. That signature voice coupled with his electric personality earned the Wolfman huge success and a cult-like following. He was known as a faceless, AM radio phenomenon. He was well regarded as a disc jockey hero.
While enjoying his ever-increasing success, eventually Smith had his name legally changed to, Wolfman Jack. He began making personal appearances in nightclubs and movies, giving his fans a face to go with the name and the voice. After a few years though, Mexico hopped on the censorship bandwagon and the big guy was out of a job. Eventually, he moved to New York and hosted his own radio program called, Midnight Special, which had a national following.
After American Graffiti was released in 1973, ALL of his fans realized that his looks perfectly fit his personality and famous voice. Wolfman Jack also appeared on television shows, commercials and infomercials. He was considered the epitome of rock and roll and had fun doing it.
His career began very humbly and grew to unmatched success. He always appreciated his fans and never refused to humor them; often posing for pictures, signing autographs and making personal appearances.
The Wolfman was dedicated and serious about his career. He performed his Friday night radio program from Planet Hollywood until his unexpected death in 1995, at the young age of 57.
The Wolfman was one of those people that you didn’t have to know personally to know him. He left a lasting rock and roll legacy that will be remembered for years to come. Howl on Wolfman!
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