Blues guitar great Lonnie Mack dies aged 74

Blues guitar icon Lonnie Mack - an influence on the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck and Duane Allman, and pioneer of the electric guitar solo - has died aged 74.

According to the guitarist's record label Alligator Records, Mack passed away of natural causes on 21 April at Centennial Medical Center near his home in Smithville, Tennessee.

Mack's early instrumental tracks, including Wham! and Memphis, were influential on many giants of rock guitar, including Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page - he also collaborated with Stevie Ray Vaughan on a number of occasions, most notably Double Whammy.

Born Lonnie McIntosh on 18 July 1941, Mack absorbed the sounds of gospel and rhythm and blues in his native Indiana, and by his early teens, he was playing professionally in local clubs and roadhouses.

In 1958, he bought his first Gibson Flying V, the guitar with which he became synonymous - legend has it that the release of 1963 guitar instrumental Wham! and its associated 1964 album, The Wham Of That Memphis Man, led to the vibrato arm being known as a whammy bar.

Studio sessions with Hank Ballard, Freddie King and James Brown built his reputation, but it was Mack's 1963 instrumental version of Chuck Berry's Memphis that made him a national name.

The bluesman's career ebbed and flowed throughout the late-60s up until 1983, when Stevie Ray Vaughan, who idolised Mack growing up, invited him to collaborate - Vaughan later contributed guitar to Mack's 1985 album, Strike Like Lightning.

Mack's place in blues history was confirmed when Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Ry Cooder and Stevie Ray Vaughan all joined him on stage during his 1985 tour, while Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon and Eddie Van Halen attended gigs during the stint.

The guitarist continued to play live into the 2000s, before relocating to Smithville, Tennessee. In 2001, he was inducted into the International Guitar Hall Of Fame, and in 2005, into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.