Bill Mack, The Midnight Cowboy
Bill Mack

Mack was born Bill Smith in Shamrock, Texas on June 4, 1932. He played guitar and harmonica and formed a band to play dances at Shamrock High School. He majored in Speech at West Texas State College and worked for radio KEVA during his student years. At 19, he was news-director for radio KLYN in Amarillo. Songwriter, cartoonist, author and deejay Bill Mack got his first break of his multi-faceted career in Wichita Falls, Texas, where his own show 'The Big Six Jamboree' played over KWFT-TV in the early 5Os. He emceed 'The Old Hadocol Western Barn Dance' on KWFT-TV and this led to a contract with Imperial Records in 1951. Mack cut a neat CD-sized bundle of 30 tracks for Imperial and came close to capturing the blue-collar aggression of primal rockabilly on tunes like "Sue-Suzie Boogie" and the 1952 piano-drenched "Play My Boogie".

Stints in broadcasting co-existed with further recordings for Starday, Philips, United Artists, MCM and a host of smaller labels. He signed with Hickory in 1970 and had an almost hit with Ladanna. This, and other Hickory and MGM sides, were gathered up on the Discus album, 'Best Of Bill Mack (If There Is Such A Thing)'. His best known songs include Clinging To A Saving Hand (Connie Smith) and Drinking Champagne (Cal Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Strait).

In March 1969, Mack joined Fort Worth's WRAP which beamed its 50,000 watt, clear channel signal all over the USA and was probably the most listened to country station of them all. Mack's all-night 'Open Road' show attracted a fanatical audience of truckers, airline pilots and country entertainers. 'Country Music Magazine' called him the last real radio star. His autobiography, 'Spins And Needles', was published in 1971.

Some forty years ago, Mack wrote the song "Blue" and recorded it for Starday. In 1996 it was a #1 hit for LeAnn Rimes, a 13 year old spring chicken with the voice of a 30 year old. Mack encouraged the much-seized upon media hook that the song was intended for Patsy Cline who never got to record it (though lots of people had including Roy Drusky, Kathryn Pitt, Polly Stevens and yodelling Kenny Roberts). Mack, who keeps on truckin'at WBAP, finally picked up a country song Grammy Award for "Blue" in 1997.

Courtesy of Bear Family Records;