The Wolf Jackson Story
Some people earn their chops working tirelessly, some people are born into a destiny of greatness and then there's Jack Wolf III. The only son of famous jazz organist Jack Wolf Jr. and ballroom dancer Stella Catulla Wolf, the young Wolf, along with his three sisters, grew up in the Chicago area during the golden age of America's Camelot. Raised on the diet of a wide range of musical influences...from Sinatra, Satchmo and the jazz standards to the revolutionary rock and roll of Elvis, The Beatles or Jimi Hendrix as well as listening to countless records on 78rpm or 45rpm discs and to the top of the pops on local AM radio or late night college pirate radio...Jack Wolf III grew up on a musical salad of extraordinary tastes.
For Jack the third (as his sisters call him, “trip” as in triple) playing a musical instrument was a foregone conclusion from the moment he was born. His famous father often propped him front of the Hammond B-3 before he was walking, teaching him the subtle art of making music while the child was learning to talk. The younger Wolf was playing all kinds of instruments by the time he was 8, but nothing inspired him like playing the guitar, for him the electric guitar became his inner voice speaking out for the world to hear. Blending his diverse influences into a unique style, integrating standard arrangements into contemporary rock music, the young musician continually honed his skills. Hanging out with his dad at various jazz clubs around Chicago, the boy was often referred to as “Jack's son” or, at those smokey hip blues joints on the south side, they simply called the kid “Wolf”; either way the moniker was a good fit when the wonder-boy guitar playing kid became known as “Wolf Jackson” when, at age 11, he was the opening act for his famous dad.
In the mid 1970s, when other kids his age were trying to get a driver's license or working at a part-time job to pay for the prom, Wolf was working hard and focused on developing a sound that fit in with the current popular styles of music while paying homage to his deep jazz roots. While looking through Buddy Rich albums at a local record store, Wolf met a 17 year old Howard Rothstein, a drummer with drive and desire equal to Wolf; a week later Rothstein introduced Wolf to his young bass player friend, Dean “Beast” Reynolds. Together the trio formed an unrivaled powerhouse rhythm section known far and wide as “The Wolf Jackson Band”. It wasn't long before The Wolf Jackson Band was playing countless gigs throughout the Midwest, earning a reputation of being a tight band with a musical diversity equal to one; The Wolf Jackson Band was just the best. Other recording artists and performers booked The Wolf Jackson Band as a backing group for numerous recording sessions and concerts, they worked in Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Nashville and New York; all the while Wolf emerged as a gifted song writer and producer himself which brought him to new levels of success. When Wolf wrote and co-produced Margherita Sanchez's monster Disco crossover hit “Disco Meat” his talents were in high demand by major record companies with multiple chart toppers with bands like “The VooDoo Chefs”, “Mad Bananas”, “Hexophonix” “Proper Etiquette” and “Sweet Cinnamon Mash” and on both sides of The Atlantic, Wolf Jackson was in demand.
Riding the new wave of that hair band craze during the early 1980's, The Wolf Jackson Band made the pilgrimage to the Holy Mecca of all things glam, the new epicenter of the rock and roll universe, Los Angeles, California. Settling into an old Hollywood bungalow once owned by silent film sensation Delores Pettigrew, the Wolf Jackson Band transformed themselves into a new, high-octane breed of refined hard rock with the expectation of regaining their legendary status in this new age of the music business. It would not be so, however, it seemed Wolf's magic touch and unique style...coveted by record company executives just a few years before...was rejected like a pariah among the industry insiders. Times were tough and only got tougher for the trio, despite their hard work and ambition, the grind wore on all of them and tempers flared. Friction grew between Dean Reynolds and Wolf while Howard Rothstein became interested in a girl from back home in Chicago; when Reynolds and Rothstein cashed in their California dreams for a more suburban reality, Wolf was seriously considering following them back home. He didn't, Wolf Jackson stayed a month longer which changed his life. Again. Hollywood producer R.J. Samuelsohn, an old friend of his father's, approached Wolf about scoring a small independent film starring a then unknown Robert Rouke; although panned by critics the film, “Give It Mr. Reese” became a cult favorite and opened a whole new career for Wolf Jackson, that of film score composer. Over the next dozen years Wolf scored 21 feature films, composed the theme music for 3 successful network television shows and even co-wrote a Broadway musical...yet something was missing for Wolf Jackson, something didn't sit right for him and it left him longing for something more.
It's said that life doesn't begin until 40, but when Wolf Jackson passed that birthday he felt like he was still waiting for his real life to start. A few years later, while vacationing with friends and family in the South of France, Wolf found a new inspiration; the kids went crazy for this new “dub step” music playing in all the dance clubs. Music that was heavy on the deep bass and hypnotic drum beats blended with classic rock riffs, a synthetic hybrid of technology and roots music which hit Wolf between the creative eyes. No sooner than getting back to The USA, Wolf sought a connection to rap pioneer and music mogul Erik “Gitty-Gitty” Psalms; ironically Palms was in the process of sampling “Disco Meat” (Wolf's first big hit) for his next release. Once Gitty-Gitty and Wolf were face to face in a New York City recording studio, they hit it off famously and Wolf had found another niche for his unique talents. While collaborating at The Recording Zone one night the high quality digital samples of were completely destroyed by a freak equipment malfunction. Palms was said to be murderous over the matter, he was furious over the matter but Wolf simply suggested he would play the riffs live with the rest of the recording...his precise and searingly perfect performance completely blew away everyone in the room. That night Wolf played several improvised pieces, all of them over random “dub step” and contemporary hip-hop tracks and unlike anything anyone had heard before. This jam session was also recorded but, mysteriously, those rare tracks disappeared. Erik Gitty-Gitty Psalms invited Wolf Jackson back on tour and although Wolf was tempted at the time, he declined the offer...he declined the offer because that something was still not right.
Returning home gave Wolf the notion of returning to his own home, back to his own roots so he made a random trip back to Chicago and looked up his old partners, Dean Reynolds and Howard Rothstein. The three members of The Wolf Jackson Band talked about old times over deep dish pizza and beer when it was suggested they get back together again. Reynolds saw the opportunity to escape his job as an appliance salesperson and understood the shifting market's taste for “nostalgia” music; Rothstein was a successful music director at a community college and not so enthused about the idea at first but eventually agreed, it would be a great time. Wolf Jackson did what he does, he made some calls and put the word out, the band was getting back together. It was a very welcome response from venues, promoters and even record company execs, within a couple of months, The Wolf Jackson Band was on the first leg of their turn of the century come back tour!
The tour, put together by Wolf Jackson's savvy business partner and wife, started with a whisper in the small college towns of Texas and Arkansas. Together the band worked on their chops, built their rapport and learned how to read an audience all over again. A couple of weeks into the tour everyone was feeling good about this new project, but none more so than Wolf Jackson himself...perhaps this is that special something he felt missing? The Wolf Jackson Band, as magnificent as they are, were always standing behind somebody else's spot light...but not this time, now The Wolf Jackson Band was the spot light. But when life looks like easy street there is danger at your door and so it was when tragedy struck late one night outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The band's tour bus made a wrong turn, crashed down an embankment and into an alligator infested swamp while everyone was asleep. The bus driver managed to open a roof hatch to get almost everyone out, but not before Dean Reynolds lost his left hand to a gator and Howard Rothstein had slipped below the water line inside the bus, his body never recovered. It's said, to this day, in that swamp if you listen closely, you'll hear the steady back-beat of Rothstein's perfect timing echoing through the reeds.
Devastated by the loss of his oldest friend and feeling responsible for their horrific fate, Wolf Jackson completely vanished from the music scene. A recluse who lives on a fortified compound somewhere in central Florida, Wolf refused all invitations and awards presented to him. Never granting an interview, never speaking of his old friends or their tragic demise, never making a note a music for anyone to hear, the one time wonder-boy guitar playing kid was forever silent. Some said he was dead, other said he was ill and still others speculated that he's been hiding in plain sight and performing under an alias. All of them are wrong, none of them are close to the truth and very soon, we'll all find out again as Wolf Jackson comes back for his final swan song...yes, boys and girls, lovers of good music everywhere, it's true indeed...Wolf Jackson is back, this time with a higher purpose because he finally found that something, he found what is right and he's ready to share it with you too!