lon­nie mack

Wham, bam – Lon­nie Mack was the blue-eyed soul man! Les David­son tips his own hat to a re­cently-de­parted but sem­i­nal blues­man.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON -

As we lose yet an­other le­gendary gui­tarist we pay homage to the great Lon­nie Mack. Born Lon­nie McIntosh in 1941, Mack was an in­flu­en­tial blues gui­tarist and so-called ‘blue-eyed soul’ singer from West Har­ri­son, In­di­ana. Lon­nie’s early life was spent in a ru­ral farm­ing com­mu­nity with no elec­tric power. He re­calls that both his mother and fa­ther played and sang coun­try mu­sic and pow­ered up their ra­dio from a trac­tor bat­tery so they could lis­ten to the Grand Ole Opry, broad­cast from Nashville. Lon­nie started play­ing gui­tar at age seven and it wasn’t long be­fore he was play­ing for pen­nies out­side a lo­cal ho­tel.

His early in­flu­ences in­cluded some of the most im­por­tant blues, coun­try and jazz play­ers and num­bered among them Merle Travis, Jim­mie Rogers, Jimmy Reed, Hank Williams, Les Paul and T-Bone Walker.

It wasn’t long be­fore Lon­nie was mak­ing some­thing of a name for him­self lo­cally, and by the time he was in his early teens he had dropped out of school and was es­sen­tially a pro gui­tar player. His first record­ings were for the Esta La­bel and he had a few cuts re­leased, most no­tably Pis­tol Packin Mama.

Through­out the 1960s, Lon­nie had a reg­u­lar band and was split­ting his time per­form­ing and record­ing for var­i­ous other artists. His big break came in 1963 when he re­leased two sem­i­nal cuts that ar­guably helped to change the face of gui­tar play­ing: the mighty Mem­phis and Wham.

On both of th­ese in­stru­men­tals Lon­nie dis­played a re­mark­able dex­ter­ity in his solo­ing, cou­pled with dou­ble-stops and a pow­er­ful and di­rect gui­tar sound that grabbed the listeners at­ten­tion. It’s safe to say that

lon­nie spent his early life in a ru­ral farm­ing com­mu­nity; they pow­ered the fam­ily ra­dio from a trac­tor bat­tery

Lon­nie en­sured that rock gui­tar would never be the same again!

The list of world-class play­ers that cites Lon­nie as an in­flu­ence is enor­mous and in­cludes such leg­ends as Ste­vie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards, Ry Cooder, Eric Clap­ton, Duane All­man and Ted Nu­gent. Lon­nie con­tin­ued to record and tour right up un­til 2010 and his legacy will be a bench­mark for many new gen­er­a­tions of up­com­ing gui­tarists.

Lon­nie tended to tune down a semi­tone to Eb.

How­ever, for the sake of con­ti­nu­ity the fol­low­ing ex­am­ples em­ploy reg­u­lar tun­ing.

Lon­nie Mack’s Fly­ing V helped to in­spire a raft of great play­ers

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