Pioneering guitarist Lonnie Mack dies at age 74

NASHVILLE, TN (AP) — Guitarist and singer Lonnie Mack, whose instrumental recordings influenced guitar players including Stevie Ray Vaughan, has died in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 74.

Alligator Records said in a statement that Mack died Thursday of natural causes. He lived in Smithville, Tennessee, about 65 miles east of Nashville.

Born Lonnie McIntosh in West Harrison, Indiana, Mack played sessions for record labels in Cincinnati with blues and R&B greats such as James Brown, Hank Ballard and Freddie King. His 1963 instrumental recording of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” became a radio hit, and he followed that with “Wham!” — a tune that inspired the nickname “whammy bar” for the tremolo bar he had on his Gibson Flying V.

His style was influenced by country music, like George Jones and Merle Travis, but also blues singers like Bobby Bland.

Mack released several albums subsequently that weren’t as popular, but his career was re-energized when he and Vaughan co-produced his 1985 album “Strike Like Lightning.”

Guitarists like Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Ry Cooder and Vaughan all joined him on stage during his 1985 tour.

He continued to tour into the 2000s, but then moved to Tennessee after retiring from touring. He was inducted into the International Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2001 and into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame in 2005.

He is survived by five children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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