Blues Pioneer Lonnie Mack Dies

Lonnie Mack, 74, the noted blues guitarist and vocalist, died of natural causes at a hospital near his home in Smithville, Tenn., April 21.


He was cited as an influence on the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page. It is said that after he released his album The Wham of that Memphis Man! guitarists began referring to tremolo bars on electric axes as “whammy bars.”

Mack entered his career as a professional musician early in his youth, leaving school after a fight with his sixth-grade teacher. His first radio single, an instrumental version of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” was released in 1963 and he would keep rocking until 2004, when he finished his final tour.

Throughout his career he played internationally, cut 11 solo albums and performed with the likes of Vaughan, Albert Collins and James Brown.

Ted Nugent said Mack was a trailblazer for rock guitarists in an interview with Music Radar: “Listen to the original ‘Wham!’ and ‘Suzie Q’ for the definitive touch, tone, lyricism and soulful musical attitude. Lonnie figured out before anybody else just how to project the right notes and the ultimate sound that penetrated deep into our sensual souls.”

His last album was 1990’s Attack of the Killer V, referencing his trademark Gibson Flying V guitar. He was inducted into the International Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is survived by five children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.