Arthur Penhallow may not be a baby any more, but his signature howl has graced tens of thousand of WRIF bumper stickers throughout Metro Detroit for much of his forty year radio career, is as fresh as ever.

Where did it come from?  It’s a question he’s been asked over and over again for decades, but still replies with the good humor of the founding father of Detroit rock and roll radio:  “It’s a line from my good buddy Peter Wolf song… I started using it on air, not realizing that it was becoming associated with me even more than the J. Geils Band., at least locally.  Then the stickers came out, and the rest is, as they say, history…”

A marvelous history it’s been for Big Daddy Arthur P—and for those of us who number ourselves among his faithful listeners.  Born in Honolulu, Penhallow came to Detroit in the late sixties after a brief but illustrious drumming career where he opened for some top names and played with the Mamas & the Papas’ backup band.   As such, to those of us a generation behind him, he seemed like the quintessential free-love, good time incarnation of a hippie.

That’s why it comes as some surprise to learn that he’s a proud Vietnam veteran.

“I never spoke about it on the radio,” he admits.  At sixty-six, he still sports a ponytail, but these days, it’s snow white.  “It was the rock and roll era, vets weren’t getting a whole lot of respect.  Yeah, I was one of those guys who came back in uniform and was spit on—good thing my mother was with me, or I’d just about be getting out of jail now.”

Penhallow was stationed at a base in Hawaii, the site where battle casualties—many in body bags—made a stop before returning to the mainland for burial.  It was an experience which remains with him to this day.  Penhallow is a solid reminder of all the ‘behind-the-scenes’ warriors without whom the Vietnam War could not have been waged as successfully as it was.  “I never served in country, but I certainly served my country…”

As for the ‘hippie’ thing, Penhallow says, “I was a hippie in so far as I was into good music and a laid back view of life.  I still am.  I never protested the war, I was a vet and I saw how the media twisted it all out of proportion.



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