Joe Mack
Joe Mack

Joe Mack

About Joe Mack

Joe Mack was a session bass player whose career took him from the tail end of the big-band era into the rock & roll boom and beyond. Born Joe Macho in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1923, he emigrated to the United States as a child and later took up the violin. He switched to the bass in high school, playing the upright acoustic instrument. In the mid-'50s, Mack picked up the electric bass early and immediately embraced its characteristics, learning how to exploit them at a time when many of his colleagues made the switch more slowly and reluctantly, and were still deciding if they could (or wanted to) pick it up. Consequently, he found himself in great demand as rock & roll, with its requirements for a heavier bass sound, began to dominate the charts. He was based in Philadelphia in those days, which helped to get him in on the ground floor of the new music — as a member of Dave Appell & the Applejacks, he made it into the Columbia film Don't Knock the Rock (1956). Appell and his band, including Mack, also became the house band at Cameo-Parkway Records, their playing turning up on recordings by Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, et al., over the next nine years. Mack was one of the busiest musicians in Philadelphia into the middle of the 1960s, when Cameo-Parkway was sold.

Mack was persuaded in 1965 to move to New York, where most of the arrangers who used him had relocated. He did so and immediately found himself just as busy as he'd been in Philadelphia. Some of the earliest sessions that he played in New York City were for producer Tom Wilson, on the electric overdubbed tracks for the Simon & Garfunkel album Sounds of Silence, and on the electric side of Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home. He also played on Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," in a session produced by Wilson. Over the next decade, he played on records by Janis Ian (For All the Seasons of Your Mind), Tom Rush (The Circle Game), the Insect Trust, Eric Andersen, the Left Banke (including "Walk Away, Renee"), Dion ("Abraham, Martin and John"), Melanie (The Good Book), and Van Morrison (Veedon Fleece), among many others. It was through producer Bob Crewe that Mack also became involved with film music, on the soundtrack for Barbarella (1968) — his later movie work included sessions for the music on Midnight Cowboy. Mack passed away in 1977 of a heart attack.

  • HOMETOWN
    Prague, Czech Republic
  • BORN
    1920