Folks, I'm real nervous about getting this book right. I've ranted and raved, screamed, shouted, and even crooned at you all through microphones jacked into the pumped-up, megawatt transmitter towers of the world's biggest radio stations. I've danced, sung, and clowned in front of hundreds of nightclub and Vegas showroom crowds, and before the blissed-out faces of ocean-sized, bigger'n-Woodstock festival audiences. Not to mention my thousands of hours of sweaty, valuable experience in front of television and movie cameras.
But one thing that I'd never, ever done before - which has made me more scared than the most nervous virgin you ever met - was to sit down in a quiet place in front of blank paper and try to make sense of my life.
A great musical pal of mine, a Texas rhythm and blues man by the name of Delbert McClinton, once wrote a song that said, "It ain't what you eat, but the way how you chew it."
Well, I ate up all kinds of wild experiences so far in this crazy life of mine. I've spent my time living for music and other sensual thrills, instead of doing the sensible things that everybody tells you you're supposed to do. Some of my experiences, I had to chew on for a long time before I knew what they were all about. But once I got started with the writing of it, I realized there could be only one name for this book.
"Have Mercy!" is something I've said more than a million times in my life - yelling it over the final notes of a classic rhythm and blues tune, whispering it under my breath at the first bite of a juicy T-bone steak, moaning it softly to my sweet Wolfwoman in a moment of bedroom ecstasy.
"Have Mercy!" It's a simple expression of amazement, and gratitude for all the stimulating satisfactions that come from being alive.
I needed a title, and those two words just popped into my head. I liked them there. Whenever inspiration comes along, it's best to just latch on to it. Explanations will reveal themselves later on. Eventually, I realized that there are several reasons why "Have Mercy!" is perfect.
First of all, in these pages I'm trying to pull together more than half a century of living - some of it very fast living, indeed. By and large, I remember what happened. And I definitely remember what it all felt like. Sometimes I remember things even better than I really want to, if you know what I mean. But I'd already seen a lot of water pass beneath a great many bridges, and burned several of those bridges behind me, too, before I ever dreamed that there'd come a time to put my life down on paper. So it has been hard to pin some things down, or to recall exactly who was there in the room with me, and whether we went out for barbecue afterward, haunted a funky, smoky nightclub until closing time, or hopped the red-eye to Las Vegas.
I've asked a lot of my old friends to help me recall the days gone by, when we all dipped into the electricity of the moment. When rhythm and blues made its transition into rock 'n' roll, and rock 'n' roll into the music that suddenly shook up the whole world. Some of my old pals were a little worried: "I dunno, Wolf. It's been a long time, but they still might press charges, y'know?"
Thankfully, some of the many reprobates I've known were willing to open up their minds and their hearts and help me recall what a long, strange, and exhilarating trip it's been.
Even so, the story line may run through a patch of fog here and there. So please have a little mercy on me, 'cause I've tapped those old memory banks as deeply as I can. And I promise that some of these memories will amaze you.
Now, you might get shocked here a