Longtime North Texas radio DJ and award-winning country music songwriter Bill Mack has died of COVID-19, according to his son, Billy Mack Jr.
Mack, who was a stapler in the country’s radio beginning in the 1960s, died early Friday just two days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 91.
“I’m deeply sorry to tell you that my father died early this morning due to COVID-19 with underlying conditions. He was an amazing father, grandfather, great-grandfather and husband to my mother. I’m blessed to have had no not just a good dad, but also my best friend, ”Mack’s son, Billy Mack Jr., said on Twitter.
Mack’s son spoke to NBC 5 on Friday afternoon and said his father had suffered from dementia and was living in a memory institution when he was diagnosed with the virus. On Wednesday, he was confirmed to have both fluid in his lungs and COVID-1
Shortly after, doctors told the family that Mack had very little time left.
Mack’s son said when his father was positive about COVID-19 that he, his mother and his three sisters were only able to say goodbye during a conference call.
“We said goodbye to him yesterday. My sister played Clinging to a Saving Hand, a song he wrote many years ago. He said he wanted to hear it, so we just played it and tried to sing a little along. that, ”said Mack jr.“ He could not speak very well, but his sense of humor was still there. One of the things he told us, “guys, will you please pull yourself together, you’re bothering me in front of the nurse.”
Mack Jr. said the family had taken all precautions against the disease and hoped to visit his father again soon – never knowing that when it saw him in March, it would be the last time they would be face to face.
“You hear stories of nursing homes and people getting infected, but you never thought it would happen,” Mack Jr. said. and added that the memory facility where his father lived was amazing and treated his father like family. They are not yet sure how the virus got into the facility, and Mack Jr. said his father is believed to be the first resident to be diagnosed. “My heart goes out to them, too.”
Mack Jr. said his father’s lasting legacy will be that of a great father, a great friend and one of someone who tried to share stories of music and movies to his listening family.
Born in the Panhandle city of Shamrock, Mack was known for his loyal listeners as “Dean of Country Music Disc Jockeys” and “Radio’s Midnight Cowboy” because of his dual status as a country music DJ and songwriter.
He first hit the airwaves in Fort Worth in 1969 as a disc jockey at the WBAP 820-AM, where he hosted the Country Roads Show and played music for truck transportation overnight.
The show, which aired from the historic WBAP studios, where NBC 5 first aired, was later renamed the Midnight Cowboy Trucking Show, which is associated with his moniker. The show, with its clear channel signal, reached listeners in Texas and across large parts of the United States.
This show is still on the air but is now known as Red Eye Radio. Current host Eric Harley said on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened by the passing of a longtime friend and former radio partner Bill Mack. A legend. In 1969, he founded the all-night show on WBAP, which eventually became Red Eye Radio. My love and prayers are with Cindy, Billy and the family. Rest in peace, brother. “
“When you see Bill Mack, in the background there are Texas flags, there’s Big Tex at the big State Fair of Texas and all the other iconic symbols that come with Texas,” Harley said in an interview with NBC 5.
Harley heard about Mack’s passing this morning on Twitter.
“It’s really devastating because Bill was more than just a colleague. He was more than just a friend. He was like a brother. He was the complete companion for everyone he met, ”he said.
Harley grew up listening to Mack’s radio program and later joined him as co-host.
“He was so kind, and I thought, ‘This is the legend I work with,'” Harley said. “One evening he said, ‘Son, I’m getting coffee. And he went down the hall and made us both coffee. He was that kind of guy. You could not imagine how kind and gentle he is until you met him in person. “
After leaving the terrestrial airwaves, Mack then hosted a show on XM satellite radio for another decade before leaving in 2011.
Mack’s country music songs were recorded by more than five dozen artists, culminating in 1996 with a Grammy Award for Best Country Song and Song of the Year from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Radio Music Awards for the song Blue.
The same song also won 13-year-old LeAnn Rimes her first Grammy for her recording of the song.
Another of Mack’s hits, Drinking Champagne, was a hit for singer Cal Smith in the 1960s and George Strait in 1990. Other popular renditions of the song by Dean Martin and Willie Nelson were played live and can be viewed on YouTube.
Mack was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and is an inductor in the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association. For his radio career, Mack was inducted into the Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame in 1982.
Mack also introduced each concert at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth.
“I’m pretty sure if you ‘looked up’ country music ‘in the dictionary, you’ll see Bill Mack’s picture,” said Billy Bob’s Pam Minick. He really is a wandering lexicon. a good friend. And gosh Bill Mack, you’re country music and you’ll be missed. ”
Harley said he has lost family members to COVID-19 and is sorry they can not get together for Mack.
“I know it’s hard when you can not get together as a group, and that would be a big group for Bill. I tell you right now, it would fill many, many, many churches, and it is so hard to know that his friends, many that he had everywhere, would not be able to be there for him, ”he said. he. “Although we can not personally be there to show our sympathy, we are here and we will continue to do so and pay tribute to him for a long, long time.”
Funeral plans have not yet been announced, but the family said they will hold a service to celebrate his life when it is safe to gather people in the same room.
Mack is survived by his wife Cindy, son Billy and two daughters Misty and Sunnie. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Debbie.