Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wham, twang and thank you ma'am

There are days we wish we had quit school at age 13 like Lonnie Mack and concentrated on becoming a great guitarist.  Maybe today we'd be as great as the roadhouse rocker from Harrison, Indiana.

Yeah, right.  We've never figured out the whammy bar, and we've for-sure never strapped on a vintage Gibson Flying V like Lonnie's signature model that came from an early production run.

It's a bit of a surprise that Mack, who has influenced a wide range of great players from Duane Allman to Stevie Ray Vaughan, isn't often one of the first names that tumbles out during discussions about the greatest axemen of all time.  Explains one critic:  "It was the era of satin pants and histrionic stage shows, and all the superior chops in the world couldn't hide the fact that chubby, country Mack probably had more in common with Kentucky truck drivers than he did with the new rock audience."

Say now, did Mack Trucks ever take advantage of this?

Here's some perspective on Mack's ground-breaking playing from the book Legends of Rock Guitar: "It is not an exaggeration to say that Lonnie Mack was well ahead of his time....His bluesy solos pre-dated the pioneering blues-rock guitar work of Jeff Beck... Eric Clapton... and Mike Bloomfield... by nearly two years. Considering that they [were] 'before their time', the chronological significance of Lonnie Mack for the world of rock guitar is that much more remarkable."

Good enough to make him our headliner in today's Birthday Band, which is an amazing group to behold:

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1929-2000): Singer/pianist
I Put a Spell on You

"Papa Dee" Allen (1931-1988): Keyboards, War
The World is a Ghetto, Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Dion DiMucci (1939): Singer, Dion and the Belmonts
A Teenager in Love, Runaround Sue, The Wanderer, Ruby Baby, Donna the Prima Donna

Lonnie Mack (1941): Guitarist
Memphis, Suzie-Q, Chickin Pickin'

Martha Reeves (1941): Singer
Power of Love, Heat Wave, Quicksand, Dancing in the Street

Robin McDonald (1943): Guitarist, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas
Little Children, Trains and Boats and Planes, Bad to Me

Glenn Hughes (1950-2001): Singer, Village People (biker dude)
YMCA, Macho Man

Ricky Skaggs (1954): Bluegrass strummer/singer
Crying My Heart Out Over You, Highway 40 Blues, Cajun Moon


  1. He played a great version of "Memphis" which the Faces copied.