North Texas radio DJ and award-winning country music writer Bill Mack has died of COVID-19, according to his son, Billy Mack Jr.
Mack, who was a staple on the country’s radio that began in the 1960s, died early Friday just two days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 91.
“I am very sad to tell you that my dad passed away early this morning because of COVID-19 with underlying conditions. He was a father, grandfather, great grandfather and a wonderful man to my mother. I am blessed to have not only a great father but also the my best friend, “said Mack’s son, Billy Mack Jr. on Twitter.
His son Mack spoke to NBC on Friday afternoon 5 and said his father was suffering from dementia and living in a memory care facility when he was diagnosed with the virus. On Wednesday he was confirmed to both have fluid in his lungs and COVID-19 and was rushed to ICU Irving.
Soon after, doctors told the family that Mack had little time left.
His son Mack said that since his father was positive for COVID-19, he, his mother and his three sisters could only say goodbye on a conference call.
“We started saying our adid yesterday. My sister had Clinging to a Saving Hand, a song she wrote years back. He said he wanted to hear it so we just played it and kind of tried to sing a little bit with it,” Mack Jr. said. “He couldn’t speak very well, but his sense of humor was still there. One of the things he told us, ‘Guys, please get along is embarrassing me in front of the nurse.’ “
Mack Jr. said the family had taken every precaution against the disease and hoped to be able to visit his father again soon – he never realized that when the rat marched it would be the last time they would come face to face.
“You hear stories of nursing homes and infected people, but I never thought that would happen,” said Mack Jr., who added that the memory care facility where his father lived was fantastic and handy. to his father like family. They are still unsure how the virus came into the facility and Mack Jr. said his father is believed to be the first resident 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 that of someone who tried to share stories about music and movies with his family of listeners.
Mack, who was born in the town of Shamrock Panhandle, was known to his loyal listeners as the “Dean of Country Music Disc Jockeys” and “Radio Midnight Cowboy” because of his dual status as a country music DJ and writer.
He first hit air frequencies at Fort Worth in 1969 as a disc jockey on the WBAP 820-AM where he hosted the Country Roads Show and played music for overnight trucks.
The show, which aired outside of WBAP’s historic studios where NBC 5 also aired, was later dubbed the Midnight Cowboy Trucking Show, which is associated with its moniker. The show, with its clear channel signal, reached listeners in Texas and around much of the United States.
That show is still on the air, though it is now known as Red Eye Radio. Current host Eric Harley said on Twitter that he was, “Deeply saddened by the passing of longtime friend and former radio partner Bill Mack. Legend. In 1969, he stopped the show’s all night on WBAP which eventually became Red Eye Radio My love and prayers are with Cindy, Billy and family. Rest in peace, she is. “
“When you see Bill Mack, in the background there’s the Texas flag, there’s Big Tex at the big Texas State Fair and all those other iconic symbols that go along with Texas,” Harley said in an interview with NBC 5.
Harley heard Mack’s track 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 his brother. He was the consuming friend of everyone he met,” he said.
Harley grew up listening to Mack’s radio show and later joined him as a co-host.
“He was so gentle and I thought to myself here this myth that I’m working with,” Harley said. “One night he said, ‘Son, I’m going to have coffee. And he went down the hall and made us both coffee. He was that kind. He couldn’t imagine how gentle and gentle he was until you met him in person.’
After leaving the ground-based airwaves, Mack then organized a show on XM satellite radio for another decade before taking off in 2011.
Mack’s country music songs have been recorded by more than five dozen artists ending in 1996 with a Grammy Award for Best Country Song and Song of the Year awards from both the Academy of Music and Country Radio. Music Awards for the song Blue.
The same record also won 13-year-old LeAnn Rimes her first Grammy for recording her song.
Another of Mack’s hits, Drinking Champagne, was a hit for singer Cal Smith in the 1960s and George Strait in the 1990s. Other popular renditions of the Dean Martin and Willie Nelson song were played live and can be seen on YouTube.
Mack was named to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and is an inductee in the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association. As for his radio career, Mack was inducted into the Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame in 1982.
Mack will also introduce each concert at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth.
“I’m sure if you looked up‘ country music ’in the dictionary, you would see the picture of Bill Mack,” said Bill Miny of Billy Bob’s. It’s really a walking encyclopedia. Most importantly we consider him a great friend. And gosh Bill Mack, you’re country music and you’re going to quit. “
Harley said he lost family members to COVID-19 and is sad they can’t reunite for Mack.
“I know it’s hard when you can’t come together as a group, and it would be a big group for Bill. I’m telling you that now, he’s going to fill many, many, many churches and it’s so hard to know that many of his friends he had around him can’t be there for him, “he said.” While we cannot be there to show our condolences personally we are here and 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.