Wolfman Jack (born Robert Weston Smith; January 21, 1938 July 1, 1995) was an American disc jockey. He was famous for his gravelly voice and his trademark "wolf howl".
He was interested in radio at a young age and was particularly a fan of Alan Freed (sometimes known as the Moondog). He worked for various radio stations for years with other personas, it was when he worked for XERF-AM in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. He gain fame after he moved to XERB-AM, another Mexican station, where his mix of rowdy rock, verbal antics and raw rhythm and blues attracted attention across North America.
The person behind Wolfman Jack was unseen by the public for many years until he made an appearance in George Lucas American Graffiti in 1973. The reveal did not stop his career, as he was syndicated to oldies stations around the world and gained success as the announcer for NBC's late-night music show The Midnight Special. He would go on to do more than 80 television appearances as well a few movies, but sadly collapsed from a heart attack and died at the age of 57 in 1995.
His autobiography Have Mercy!: Confessions of the Original Rock 'n' Roll Animal was published in June 1995. The Guess Who had a hit song about him ("Clap for the Wolfman"), Todd Rundgren named a song on Something/Anything? after him, and Frank Zappa mentioned him in the liner notes to The Grand Wazoo.
- As Himself: Played himself in American Graffiti and More American Graffiti as well as a number of TV appearances.
- Cool Old Guy: How many people perceive him to be, and how he is often portrayed in non-radio media.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Before he came up with the Wolfman persona, he worked as a Country Music DJ named Big Smith.
- Fake Radio Show Album:
- He provided DJ bits for the American Graffiti soundtrack interspersed among the songs like in the movie.
- Also the album Howlin' on the Air, which takes actual recordings from his XERB show and mixes them with full versions of the songs he announced to simulate a complete broadcast.
- In Memoriam: given this in the 2014 documentary Tenacity and Gratitude: The Frank Cotolo Story.
- Large Ham Radio: His signature was his wolf howl and gravelly voice. He even credited the voice for his success.
- Opening Narration: He recorded the intro to The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.
- The Stoner: To the extent that when he worked at WNBC radio in New York they built him a specially-ventilated room where he could smoke. He gave it up later in life, though.
- Wolf Man: His radio persona (and hairstyle) invoked this. Though he also took inspiration from classic bluesman Howlin' Wolf.