HAVE MERCY! Confessions of the Original Rock 'n' Roll Animal by Wolfman Jack with Byron Laursen

HAVE MERCY! Confessions of the Original Rock 'n' Roll Animal

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A jolly anecdotal romp through Wolfman Jack's life as a disc jockey and improbable pop-culture legend. Born in 1938, future Wolfman Bob Smith grew up in and around New York City. His parents divorced when he was five, and he divided his unsettled youth between running with a gang and pursuing his overlapping loves: rhythm-and-blues and radio. Smith honed his craft at a tiny radio station in Newport News, Va., where in addition to spinning records and polishing his patter, he messengered marijuana, dabbled in pimping, and inaugurated interracial on-air dance parties. After a stint in Louisiana, where his commitment to mixed-race entertainment inspired the KKK to burn a cross on his lawn, Smith invented the Wolfman Jack persona and finagled himself a time slot on XERF, a Mexican border station so powerful that at night it reached most of the United States. This book's hilarious, tongue-in-cheek highlight, which reads like a collaboration between Mark Twain and Sergio Leone, explains how the Wolfman essentially took over XERF. This entailed bribes to the Mexican government, the extortion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from evangelical preachers, a gun battle at the station's transmitter in the middle of the desert, and an attempted assassination in a seedy hotel room. During the late '60s and early '70s, the Wolfman's broadcasts were heard by huge audiences; one listener, George Lucas, famously structured American Graffiti around Wolfman Jack's voice. The memoir (written with coauthor Laursen) provides many entertaining accounts, but it downplays the unpleasantness of his marital infidelities and drug use. A genuine fan's infatuation for rock and R&B music is evident throughout. Wolfman Jack makes a droll, infectiously enthusiastic raconteur of his own strange career.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1995
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Warner