Local Musician Lonnie Mack, 74, Has Died
Rolling Stone magazine named him as one of its 20 Iconic Guitars.
A pioneer in rock guitar soloing, Mack is said to have given the tremolo bar its nickname – the “whammy” bar – after the title of one of his instrumental hits, “Wham!” In 1958 Mack bought one of the first Gibson Flying Vs off the production line, and it became his signature guitar. Of native American descent, Mack has said he liked the guitar’s arrowlike shape.
We in the Backwoods grew up with Lonnie Mack, an all-around nice guy and source of many fond memories.
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Legendary musician Lonnie Mack has died at the age of 74, according to Alligator Records, which was one of his former labels.
His record company confirmed the news saying he died of natural causes Thursday, April 21, at a hospital near his home in Smithville, Tennessee.
Mack was born in West Harrison, Indiana.
He was a guitar singer and player. He played blues, rock and county and recorded for the King and Fraternity record labels in Cincinnati.
Mack is cited as a mentor and inspiration for other guitarists, like Stevie Ray Vaughn.
He’s best known for the songs “Memphis” and “Wham!”
He is survived by five children and multitudes of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The Orpheum Theater on Beale Street, Memphis, TN, USA, August 1986
Found this bio from Ace Records:
Born in1941 into a Kentucky farming family who enjoyed music, the young Lonnie Mack’s experiences were decidedly non-electric. Getting his first acoustic guitar at age seven meant he could join in family music making, soaking up a mixture of country and blues influences. By the late 50s he had cut a couple of singles for the small Sage label, and in 1958 he bought one of the first Gibson Flying V guitars. He worked playing sessions for Fraternity Records in Cincinnati, where he was allowed an end-of-session slot to record his band. The resultant ‘Memphis’ became a Top 5 hit in 1963, closely followed by ‘Wham’, essentially kick-starting what would become known as blues rock. Also respected as a fine blue-eyed soul singer, he went on to record for Elektra between 1968 and 1971 and for many other labels from then on.