lonnie mack

Mack’s influence can, in part, be gauged by the artists who sought his company. Here he jams with Keith Richards and Ron Wood, with Wood emulating Mack’s beloved Flying V No. 7 with his own Gibson.

The ’60s guitar hero’s early singles laid the groundwork for blues-rock and influenced generations of players, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Lonnie Mack described his music as “a little bit of everything. There’s county, blues, rock ’n’ roll, all the way down to some bluegrass and a little Cajun with some uptown jazzy stuff mixed in.” No matter the genre, it was clear that Mack, who was born Lonnie McIntosh in West Harrison, Indiana, on July 18, 1941, was a guitarist’s guitarist. His first two singles, 1963’s “Memphis” and “Wham!,” laid the groundwork for blues-rock and influenced generations of players, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, and, most notably, Stevie Ray Vaughan, who co-produced Mack’s 1985 comeback album, Strike Like Lightning.

Mack, who died on April 21 at age 74, grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio as well as the day’s other musical fare, ranging from Les Paul to Hank Williams to Jimmy Reed to Ray Charles to T-Bone Walker to Chuck Berry to the Five Blind Boys to Robert Ward. From that varied menu, Mack pulled the elements of his own sound together when he began to form bands to play Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky roadhouses in the mid-to-late 1950s.

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