By Blurt Staff
Blues, rockabilly and rock guitar legend Lonnie Mack passed away Thursday (April 21) in Nashville at the age of 74; the cause of death has not yet been disclosed, according to the New York Times.
Born in West Harrison, Indiana, Mack first hit the charts in ’63 with an instrumental version of Chuck Berry classic “Memphis,” and followed that with “Wham!” — the latter of course, along with the subsequent album in ’64, The Wham of That Memphis Man, helping give Mack his “Wham! The Memphis Man” nickname, so influential was the vibrator bar guitar effects in the song. (That’s why we now call it a whammy bar.)
Mack went on to be a major influence upon everyone from Duane Allman to Jimmy Page to Stevie Ray Vaughan, although as the Times points out, “Mr. Mack tended to play down his importance. In a 2005 interview he said, “I was a bridge-over between the standard country licks in early rock ‘n’ roll and the screamin’ kinda stuff that came later. I started off in bluegrass, before there was rock and roll. My family was like a family band. We sang and harmonized, and Dad played banjo. We were playing mostly gospel, bluegrass, and old-style country.”
Mack recorded for Alligator in later life and was also inducted into the Guitar Hall of Fame in ’01 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in ’05.