His voice could never be labeled as melodious, smooth, velvety, or remotely pleasing. Guttural, grating, raspy and hoarse are more closer adjectives which describe the "pipes" of Wolfman Jack…the legendary rock 'n roll disc jockey. Indeed, the Wolfman will howl his way to Modesto Saturday afternoon from 1 to 5 as emcee of the Graffiti Fest '88 at the Modesto Junior College Stadium.
In a phone interview from Nashville, Tenn., Wolfman Jack…who is 50 + years-old and was born Bob Smith in Brooklyn, N.Y…. says: "I'm excited about Modesto. I think it will bring back memories of the graffiti times. That was a wonderful time for me and I'm sure it was for a lot of other people." After the show, he'll be a guest disc jockey on KHYV from 7 to 9PM and then it's "cruise time" with everyone else.
The late-night madman of the airwaves said: "We're gonna rock 'n roll like you ain't never rock 'n rolled before, in Modesto, California." And it's all part of the Second Saturday in June Graffiti Night.
"Wolfman Jack" Comes To Modesto Saturday
For the Wolfman Jack, his career in broadcasting originally started in 1957 after he had dropped out of high school. He moved to Mexico, land of the "super-wattage" radio stations. At XERF-AM, across from Del Rio, Texas, he served as station manager by day and irreverent broadcaster by night. From 1962 until 1969, the Wolfman was considered the most popular disc jockey in America. He had moved to another south-of-the-border radio station, XERB-AM in Rosarito Beach, which had a powerful 250,000-watt signal aimed directly north at the United States.
However, it wasn't until 1974 that the mysterious Wolfman Jack became a highly-visible entity. That was the year when a young film maker by the name of George Lucas---Downey High, Class of '62---wrote and directed the famed American Graffiti. The film was centered about Modesto, and Lucas asked the Wolfman to be in it. Back then, according to Wolfman, Lucas was an unknown in the film industry.
Wolfman Jack said: "I looked at the script and every page had something about the Wolfman. I was really excited, but told him, "You probably think I have a lot of money and you want me to help pay for this movie. I know I talk about how rich I am on the air, but really, it's all a hoax." It turned out that George was a great fan of the five-talk'n deejay. He said, "You were part of the youth of the period. We just want you to play yourself." So, Wolfman accepted the role for $1,000 and the rest is history, except that he also got a surprise percentage of the royalties, which made him a millionaire. More importantly he says, "American Graffiti" gave him legitimacy. Wolfman Jack's identity suddenly became larger than radio and his career started taking off in all directions. His radio show was syndicated on 1,453 stations. In addition, he made television appearances in more than 40 network shows, including "Wonder Woman" and "The Odd Couple." The Wolfman also hosted "The Midnight Special" on NBC for 8 years. Now days, he's heard live from 2 to 6PM on XTRA in San Diego and is syndicated on over 200 stations.
Wolfman Jack closed the telephone interview by saying, "I still lead the duel- personality type life. And you know, I've been married for 29 years to the same woman." He also has two grown children.
Come Saturday night at MJC stadium, you won't be able to miss him; besides his now white-streaked goatee, the Wolfman will be dressed in all black and definitely will be in a "howling" mood!