It's generally noted that Wolf debuted Sept 5, 73 at a Saunders/ Garcia show (NYC Hells Angels cruise - see 'Hells Angels Forever'), and then with the Dead on the 7th at Nassau.
However, I suspect that it may have made an appearance earlier as there's a photo floating around of Jer playing Wolf in '73 with LP knobs. This is consistent with it's re-delivery after modification in '77. The short video clip from Hells Angels Forever shows Wolf with the Raytheon knobs, so to me the photo suggests it debuted earlier.
As to why it took four months to break out, there are several possibilities;
- I could understand simply being hesitant to take a valuable new guitar out on tour during the hot summer months.
- Being in the studio in August would have been an ideal opportunity to run Wolf through it's paces before taking it on the road.
- It seems possible to me that one or more parts were transplanted from Alligator to Wolf (pickups, knobs, stratoblaster). If this were the case, you'd obviously want to be doing that during the down time to get the guitar just right.