The music world is mourning the loss of another great guitarist. On the same day that Prince died in Minnesota, guitar great Lonnie Mack died in a town outside of Nashville. He was 74.
The singer and musician, who passed away from natural causes in Smithville, Tennessee, will forever be heralded for not only his own aggressive phrasing and style in his playing, but for influencing other great guitarists including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Duane Allman, and Jimmy Page.
Rolling Stone called him a “pioneer in rock guitar soloing.”
Mack, who was born near Cincinnati, starting playing professional guitar in his early teens. According to his record label, he quit school after a fight with his sixth-grade teacher.
He worked clubs and roadhouses, and began playing sessions for record labels in Cincinnati, recording blues tunes with James Brown, Hank Ballard, and others.
Mack first hit the charts on his own in 1963 with an instrumental recording of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis.” Overnight he went from roadhouse player to guitar star. He followed that with “Wham!” and “Where There’s a Will There’s A Way,” and dozens of other records.
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Although he had a definitely blues sound, Mack’s style was influenced by country music, including classic musicians like George Jones and Merle Travis. He kept playing and releasing albums through the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1985 when his career was reignited, as he and Vaughan co-produced the 1985 album “Strike Like Lightning.”
During a 1985 tour, he was joined by Vaughan, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Ry Cooder.
He continued to tour into the 2000s. He was inducted into the International Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2001 and into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame in 2005.