George "Hound Dog" Lorenz
George "Hound Dog" Lorenz
BMHOF Class of 1996
Born to Fredrick and Lillian Lorenz on October 22nd, 1919, George Lorenz had a bright future ahead of him. He lived most of his life off Clinton Street in Buffalo, around the Clinton/Bailey Market, on Baitz Avenue. Little did they know their son would go on to be a major influence in the course of radio and music in this country. He would become a pioneer ahead of his time that, even today, has not been equaled.
George Lorenz, who would later be know as the “Hound Dog”, had a younger sister named Ruth. George attended grammar school at school 69 on Clinton Street in Buffalo. He went on to attend South Park High School and six months prior to graduation, George got ill and was unable to finish school. Until the day he died, he had every intention to return and finish the final six months.
On August 16, 1941, George married Rita Leminger. They had four children; George, Linda, Franklin, and Fredrick.
In the mid to late 1940’s, George Lorenz started his career at WXRA in Buffalo. The picture above is of George at WXRA. He wouldn’t last long at WXRA because of the music he played. On January 24, 1948, the same day his daughter was born, George Lorenz would start at WJJL in Niagara Falls, NY where he had a morning show. He was known at this time as Ol' Man Lorenz. It was here he could play the music he wanted and began to get a following. At the same time he promoted a country western show in Tonawanda, NY. George was a big fan of Hank Williams Senior.
In 1951, after a few years at WJJL, George Lorenz would become known as the “Hound Dog”. The nickname had it roots in a 1940’s expression “doggin’ around.” Let’s let The Hound tell it:
“One of the jive expressions at the time was if you were hangin’ around the corner, you were doggin’ around. So I’d come on and say ‘ Here I am to dog around for another hour.’ That’s how they got to call me the hound dog.” Saturday 2/20/1971 Weekend Pause, Buffalo Evening News
While at WJJL, George “Hound Dog” Lorenz was also on the air in Cleveland, OH from 1953 to 1955. During this time, Rock ‘n Roll was born. In 1955, "The Hound" joined WKBW in Buffalo, NY. WKBW would propel the “Hound” even further. A powerful station, WKBW was heard in 20 states and Canada. The Eastern Seaboard was rockin’ to the sounds the “Hound” played. His fan club grew to record numbers at this time.
“Lorenz also had his own newsletter for his “fan club”. He wrote it himself, including a Top-10 list for the newsletter each week. He charged a dollar, just enough to cover printing and postage. He understood it wasn’t about the money, it was about marketing.” (Warley, Stephen, Serving Their Communities: 50 Years of the New York State Broadcasters Association, p.148, 2006)
During his time at WKBW he would also begin to syndicate his show. Until 1958, George Lorenz called WKBW home. In July 1958, WKBW would change to a top 40 format. Before the change over, The Hound left the station. He felt top 40 “is hurting the record industry, is lowering radio listening, and is decreasing a new artists chance to make it” (Billboard Magazine).
The Hound found himself at WINE in Williamsville, NY (just outside Buffalo) until 1960. After WINE, he started World Wide Programming, where he continued to syndicate the Hound Dog Show. In 1962, George applied for the last FM frequency in the Buffalo market, 93.7 FM. Around this time, he also created an industry paper called “Behind the Scenes.”
On December 10, 1964, WBLK 93.7 FM went on the air, and the Hound Dog had his own house in which to rock! This would be "The House That The Hound Built.” For a little less than 8 years, George put his heart and soul into his station.
On May 29, 1972, as the sun would rise, George “Hound Dog” Lorenz passed away in his sleep, a life that was lost too soon.
He touched the lives of many people and in doing so changed the fabric of the country. His radio shows were heard all over the world. He was a pioneer. He was acquainted with such greats as Dick Clark, Little Richard, Elvis and many, many others. He brought the music to the common man, and was himself a common man. He brought rock and roll to Buffalo and the Eastern U.S. and some contend he was more instrumental than Alan Freed in introducing rock and roll to radio. His contributions actually made Buffalo a finalist in being the host city for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
We end as always with The Hound:
“There ain’t no more son. It’s splittin’ and quitten’ time. As always we ask you to play it straight on the street, of course. And to my very own Miss Fine waiting down the line, the Hound Dog says like aaaa laaaattter!”
And with the hound dog howl carrying into the “Big Heavy,” The Hound Dog signed off.
Bio from: www.hounddoglorenz.com
Back - 1996
The above article was originally published in Billboard, December 2, 1978. Written by Jim Baker.
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