Lonnie Mack - The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (1964)

Lonnie Mack is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Lonnie Mack grew up in Indiana. He first took up the guitar at age 7, playing bluegrass and country music with his family, and soon became a fan of black R&B through his late-night radio listening. He dropped out of school aged 13, deciding to pursue music as a career, and by the late 50s (still in his teens) he had formed his own band and released a few singles.
During the early 60s he found plenty of session work around Cincinnati. It was 1963 when he used some left-over studio time to record the instrumental "Memphis" (based on Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee") with his band. Unknown to him, it was released as a single by the Fraternity label, and became a surprise hit, getting to #4 on the R&B chart and #5 on the pop chart. It turned out to be a pivotal recording in the history of rock guitar, Mack's fast-paced, bluesy guitar solo paving the way for much of what was to come in the 60s. He quickly followed its success with a second instrumental, "Wham!", which was a #24 pop hit. His use of the guitar's vibrato tailpiece was so distinctive that other guitarists started referring to it as the 'whammy bar', a term still in use today.
However he proved to not only be a pioneering guitarist, but also a very talented singer. He unfortunately never achieved much recognition in this capacity - apprently, his songs had a de facto ban imposed on them by most R&B stations due to him being white. A great shame, as his early vocal recordings are some truly excellent 60s soul in the Stax/Volt style.
Fraternity released his first album in 1964, featuring both "Memphis" and "Wham!", alongside other similar instrumentals and some vocal songs (including his brilliant, gospel-flavoured "Why?"). Its a fantastic album, mixing rock & roll, blues and soul, and retrospectively many of the roots of the blues-rock genre can be traced back here. Sadly he never saw much more commercial success after his first two instrumental hits, and the album remains something of an obscurity. He wouldn't record its follow-up until 1969.

|> Glad I'm In The Band (1969)

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Unknown said...

The link is dead... any way for a re-up?
Great blog!!!
Thank you!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the re-up!
You're great.
Cheers from California