George “The Hound” Lorenz

In the earliest days of Rock & Roll music, even before it was called Rock & Roll, I was blessed with a brother who was five years older than myself. Growing up in a suburb of Buffalo, we shared a small room, with a radio on the table between our beds. At bedtime, I wanted to sleep, but my brother wanted to listen to music. “One more song,” he would say to put off my whining, “one more if it’s a good one.” And more often than not, the disk jockey on the radio was George “Hound Dog” Lorenz.

“The Hound is around,” he would intone, before playing something by Johnny Ace or Ruth Brown. This was on WKBW before the arrival of Top 40 Radio. Some nights the Hound spun records live from The Zanzibar on William Street, a club that hosted performers like Fats Domino, Bill Haley, and Little Richard. At the War Memorial Auditorium, the Hound booked Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Chuck Berry. But the real history was in the audience: white kids and black kids together, loving the music.

The Hound had a rich, soft voice and a ready portfolio of slang expressions from the Beats and the Blacks. And I had an in: One of my Lindbergh School classmates, Arnie Glaser, was the son of the Zanzibar’s owner, a relationship that scored my brother and I autographed photos of our hero. “To Kihm,” mine was inscribed, “one cool cat.” I hung it inside the door of my toy cupboard. I was a geek in every other way, but The Hound thought I was cool. He’d even put it in writing.

I was not alone in my adoration. The Hound had tens of thousands of fans in the Northeast, including a young man who took him as a role model and gained fame a generation later as Wolfman Jack. The Hound died in 1972, much too soon, but he changed music for many people, and left a fabulous legacy.

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