Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Clap For The Wolfman

by

The Guess Who



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Burton Cummings explained that the song began as a jam and was originally called "Clap For Napoleon." As they were appearing on NBC's Midnight Special a few times in 1973 (they hosted the show in '74), they changed the lyric as a tribute to the show's host, the late Wolfman Jack (real name: Robert Smith). Wolfman Jack even did a couple of live dates with the group, adding his trademark "vocal" rap, which was usually done live by Cummings. The Wolfman legend began in the 1960's when the DJ manned an unregulated Mexican radio station with the capacity to transmit 250,000 watts of power. His husky voice howled across the United States after the midnight hour and inspired artists like Todd Rundgren ("Wolfman Jack") and the Grateful Dead ("Ramble on Rose"). (thanks, Barry Kesten - Bellmore, NY)
"Clap for the Wolfman" is featured on the band's 1974 album, Road Food. The song reached #4 on the charts in Canada and #6 in the US. It couldn't have come at a better time: A few years earlier, guitarist Randy Bachman left the band, leaving a trail of insults in his wake and striking what seemed like a lasting blow to the band's popularity. By the time the band was revived with the success of "Clap for the Wolfman" and "Star Baby," Burton Cummings still hadn't cooled off. According to an interview with Creem in 1975, he told a fan, "I hate the guy. He was down on the rest of us 'cause he thought we were blowing it with dope and all this ridiculous s--t. He was like some kind of Mormon or something."

Apparently, guitarists for the Guess Who have a short shelf life. Not long after Road Food was recorded, Kurt Winter and Don McDougal got their walking papers. "They were drunks. We got tired of babysitting them," Cummings said.
In his autobiography Have Mercy!: Confessions of the Original Rock 'n Roll Animal, Wolfman Jack singles out Burton Cummings for adding his name to the song and taking him on tour to promote it. According to the Toronto Sun, the Wolfman quit his job at WNBC (where he enjoyed "$350,000 - plus a secretary, a chauffeured limousine, a bodyguard, and a well-ventilated private room at Rockefeller Center for the smoking of dope in") to go on tour with The Guess Who.
The Guess Who
The Guess Who Artistfacts
More The Guess Who songs
More songs popular at Halloween
More songs that mention other musicians in the lyrics

Comments (13):

Oh, I thought also, as I once read that it was about wishing sexually transmitted diseases on Wolfman Jack.
- Steve, Whittier, CA
Sugarloaf used Wolfman Jack, too, in "Don't Call Us".Teresa, agreed with you on Wolfman Jack being the best guy to do this version.
Rat, "I guess I can't get 'em cause Wolfman's got 'im, LOL!
- Steve, Whittier, CA
I love the version with the "Wolfman Jack" very much. He was really a fantastic guy.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
And I thought the line was "Confidence of love." I guess I can't get them because Wolfman has got them.
- Rat, Chicago, IL
NEither was the first. Apparently Wikipedia states,
"Although Miller claims he invented the words "epismetology" (metathesis of epistemology) and "pompatus," all of his song-writing shows strong rhythm and blues influences, and a 1954 song called "The Letter" by the Medallions had the lines[1]:
Oh my darling, let me whisper
sweet words of pizmotality
and discuss the puppetutes of love.
The song was composed by Vernon Green as a description of his dream woman.[1] "Pizmotality described words of such secrecy that they could only be spoken to the one you loved," Green explained. He coined the term puppetutes "to mean a secret paper-doll fantasy figure who would be my everything and bear my children."[1]"
- Tony Lewis, Fredericton, NB
They say 'pompitous of love' really don't have any significant meaning. Steve Miller said it was just a saying.
- Tom, Tellico Plains, TN
Steve Miller's "The Joker" was released first as it debuted on the top 100 chart late in 1973. It peaked at #1 in January of 1974. "Clap For The Wolfman" peaked at #6 in October 1974.
- Rich, Columbus, IN
Very few people know that the song was originally written by bassist Bill Wallace and guitarist Kurt Winter. Napoleon was actually Burton Cummings who was very Napoleonistic when the #10 album was recorded. The rest of the band was extrememly upset about it, and Kurt and Bill had a completely different set of lyrics for the song.
When producer Jack Richardson heard the song, he knoew it would be a hit, and had Burton come up with lyrics, and their record company RCA also had Wolfman Jack under contract. So they had Wolfman as a special guest, I saw a concert with them and the Wolfman as a speical guest, needless to say it was a very interesting show. They did Wolfman, but Wolfman also 'sang' the classic 'StaggerLee'.
- Richard, Lansing, MI
what do they mean .....................
- dale, rumford, ME
The Joker and this were released in the same year, but I think the Joker was written first. Very catchy. I am now going to search for "Wolfman" on songfacts, see if any other song has wolfman in the title.
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
The Stampeder's also used Wolfman Jack in a song. They did a remake of Ray Charles's song Hit The Road Jack.
- Don, Newmarket, Canada
I think Steve Miller's "pompitous" came first. i'm not sure though.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
This song refers to "the Wolfman's pompitous of love". Anybody know whose "pompitous" came first, Steve Miller's in 'The Joker' or the Wolfman's in this song?
- Cheyenne, Dallas, TX
You have to to post comments.
Maria MuldaurMaria Muldaur
The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal.
Wayne Hussey of The MissionWayne Hussey of The Mission
Wayne picks the standout tracks he wrote for The Mission and for his former band, The Sisters of Mercy.
James Williamson of Iggy & the StoogesJames Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
The Stooges guitarist (and producer of the Kill City album) talks about those early recordings and what really happened with David Bowie.
Gretchen ParlatoGretchen Parlato
The acclaimed jazz singer explains how dancing expands her range as a vocalist.