Four days ago the blues-rock guitar world lost a man whose signature 1958 Gibson Flying V, and ways round a ‘whammy bar’ influenced an entire generation of guitar geniuses; from Duane Allman, to Bootsy Collins, to Jeff Beck, and most notably Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Born in West Harrison, Indiana in 1941, Lonnie Mack began learning the guitar at age five. After dropping out of high school in 7th grade, he decided to pursue a career as a full time musician. Playing in bars around the Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky state lines, he soon signed to Cincinnati based, Fraternity Records, and served as a session guitarist for the likes of blues giant Freddie King, James Brown, and Hank Ballard.
In 1964, the then 23 year old Mack revolutionised the blues-rock genre, with his debut LP The Wham of That Memphis man! which featured two hit singles, an instrumental rendition of Chuck Berry’s Memphis, and Wham! (later made popular by Stevie Ray). Mack soon became the master of eager, dazing solos that conjured all the wham a man could possibly muster, and blue-eyed soul vox to boot. Although still hugely underrated, Mack played a major role in turning the electric guitar into a lead voice in rock n roll, and contributed knowledge, virtuosity, and stack loads of intensity. If you aren’t yet convinced, here are five performances worthy of praise;
5. Further on Down the Road ft. Albert Collins & Roy Buchanan – Live at Carnegie Hall
4. Memphis – Studio version
3. Wham! Ft. Stevie Ray Vaughan – The American Caravan
2. Stop – Live at Carnegie Hall
1. Oreo Cookie Blues – Live on AM Cleveland
Wham! Bam! Fly on, guitar man. 1941 – 2016
Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,