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Wolfman Jack

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With the on-air cool of Alan Freed and the smokestack growl of Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Weston Smith – a young white man from Brooklyn – remade himself as DJ legend Wolfman Jack.


Broadcasting from super-power Mexican transmitters from 1958 to 1966, Jack covered the US with his lawless mix of blues, rock & roll, R&B and jazz, punctuated by hip growls and howls.

More than any other radio presenter, Wolfman Jack created the role of the ‘personality’ DJ with his instantly distinctive, exaggeratedly raspy, piercing voice and pumped-up between-song chat, which were as crucial to his program’s appeal as the heady musical mix he beamed across America at a time when such music was hard to find on the radio.

His eclectic tastes were not popular with everyone – the Ku Klux Klan is reported to have planted a burning cross outside his house, which perhaps encouraged his anonymity and the move to Mexico.


The Wolfman’s mysterious identity was ultimately revealed in the movie American Graffiti (1973) in which he appeared as himself.

Wolfman Jack died of a massive heart attack on 1 July 1995.