Archive for the ‘Bill Mack’ Category

Rest in Peace, Bill Mack

Saturday, August 1st, 2020


Rest in Peace, Bill Mack

Saturday, August 1st, 2020
By: Frank Heinz and Maria Guerrero

Texas Radio’s ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ Country Songwriter Bill Mack Dies of COVID-19

Read article and see more pictures here.

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 staple on country radio beginning in the 1960s, died early Friday just two days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 91.

“I’m deeply saddened to tell you that my Dad passed away early this morning due to COVID-19 with underlying conditions. He was an amazing father, grandfather, great-grandfather and husband to my mom. I’m blessed to have had not only a great dad but my best friend as well,” said Mack’s son, Billy Mack Jr. on Twitter.

Mack’s son spoke with NBC 5 Friday afternoon and said his father had been 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 an Irving ICU.

Soon after, doctors told the family that Mack had very little time left.

Mack’s son said since his father was positive for COVID-19, he, his mother and his three sisters were only able to say goodbye on a conference call.

“We got to say our goodbyes to him yesterday. My sister played Clinging to a Saving Hand, a song that he wrote years back. He said he wanted to hear it so we just played it and kind of tried to sing along 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 that he told us, “Guys, will you please pull yourselves together you’re 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 — never realizing that when the 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 that would happen,” Mack Jr. said, adding that the memory care facility where his father lived was fantastic and treated his father like family. They aren’t yet sure how the virus got inside the facility and Mack Jr. said his father is believed to be the first resident diagnosed. “My heart goes out to them as well.”

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 to his family of listeners.

Mack, who was born in the Panhandle town of Shamrock, was known to his loyal listeners as the “Dean of Country Music Disc Jockeys” and “Radio’s Midnight Cowboy” due to his dual status as a country music DJ and songwriter.

He first hit the airwaves in Fort Worth in 1969 as a disc jockey on WBAP 820-AM where he hosted the Country Roads Show and played music for overnight truckers.

The show, which was broadcast out of the historic WBAP studios where NBC 5 also first went on the air, 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 much of the United States.

That show is still on the air, though is now known as Red Eye Radio. Current host Eric Harley said on Twitter that he was, “Deeply saddened by the passing of long-time friend and former radio partner Bill Mack. A legend. In 1969, he founded the all-night show on WBAP that eventually became Red Eye Radio. My love and prayers are with Cindy, Billy and family. Rest in peace, brother.”

“When you see Bill Mack, in the background there’s the Texas flag, there’s Big Tex at the great State Fair of Texas and all those other iconic symbols that go along with Texas,” said Harley during an interview with NBC 5.

Harley heard of Mack’s passing this morning on Twitter.

“It really is devastating because Bill was more than just a colleague. He was more than just a friend. He was like a brother. He was the consummate companion to everyone he met,” he said.

Harley grew up listening to Mack’s radio show and later joined him as co-host.

“He was so kind and I thought to myself here’s this legend I’m working with,” said Harley. “One night he said: Son, I’m going to get you some coffee. And he went down the hall and made us both coffee. He was that kind of guy. You couldn’t imagine how kind and gentle he is until you met him in person.”

After leaving the terrestrial-based 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 awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Radio Music Awards for the song Blue.

That 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 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 enshrined in the Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame in 1982.

Mack would also introduce every 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 Pam Minick, of Billy Bob’s. He’s really a walking encyclopedia. Most importantly I consider him a great friend. And gosh Bill Mack, you are country music and you will be missed.”

Harley said he’s lost family members to COVID-19 and is saddened they cannot come together for Mack.

“I know it’s hard when you can’t come together as a group, and it would be a large group for Bill. I’m telling you right now, it would fill many, many, many churches and it is so tough to know that his friends many that he had all over would not be able to be there for him,” he said.  “While we can’t be there to show our condolences in person we are here and we will continue to do that 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’s safe to get people together 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.

Willie Nelson and Bill Mack, “Drinking Champagne” (Carl’s Corner, 12/16/2009)

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Bill Mack remembered, by Joe Nick Patoski

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

“Happy birthday, Willie” — Bill Mack

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

I just called Willie. We had a long conversation and I wished him a Happy Birthday! He has reached the ripe-young-age of 86, is in grand form. You might want to join me in repeating:


Willie Nelson and Bill Mack, “Drinking Champagne” (Live from Carl’s Corner)

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Willie Nelson and Bill Mack visit in Abbott

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Bill Mack, Willie Nelson, Morgan Freeman

“Willie Nelson was parked in his bus near his hometown, Abbott, Texas, and he decided to call me, asking me to drop by for a visit. Since Abbott is a short hop from my home in Fort Worth, I whizzed over. When I walked on the bus, Willie started chatting in a normal way, asking how things were going with me, etc. Finally, after quite a while, I noticed another visitor was on the bus with his back to me. Finally, he turned around, smiled and shook my hand. It was Morgan Freeman! Willie loves to surprise me.

It ended up being a very special occasion. Morgan, a multi-Oscar winner, is one of my favorite actors. We talked about his life in the movies, although he didn’t appear to want to spotlight his activities on film. I did find out his favorite roles were in “Shawshank Redemption”, “Driving Miss Daisy” (my favorite of his roles), “Glory” and “Unforgiven”. He claimed those movies were the highlights of his career. When asked his personal favorite movies he had seen down through the years, he mentioned “King Kong”, made in 1933, “High Noon” (1952), “Moby Dick” (1956) and “Moulin Rouge” (1952).

He informed me that watching Gary Cooper in movies as a kid was responsible for his interest in films. Although Morgan is regarded as one of Hollywood’s top stars, he doesn’t live in Los Angeles. His home is in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he owns the “Ground Zero” bar & grill and a great restaurant named “Madidi”. I was really taken by Morgan, would like to spend more time with him in the future. I asked him what had brought him to Abbott, Texas. He laughed and replied, “Well, I heard Willie was in his bus over here, was lonely, and I just decided to drive over!” Willie finally roared with laughter and said, “Oh, I forgot to introduce you guys! Bill, this is Morgan Freeman. He’s a movie star of sorts. Morgan, this is Bill Mack Smith. Bill dropped his last name when he became sort of a disk jockey on radio.” All-in-all, it was a great day.”

Willie Nelson and Bill Mack

Saturday, February 25th, 2017
Bill Mack

“As many of you know, Willie Nelson cancelled some personal appearances recently. It was stated there were some health issues involved. Rumors began circulating so I called Willie and we discussed the “health issues”. He was in grand form as we chatted, telling me he came down with a case of the flu while in England.

“It was colder than Amarillo over there, Bill,” he laughed. I visited a jail in England and it was so cold I came down with the worst cold I’ve had in years and it developed into the flu. I decided to cancel those gigs, but I’ll be makin’ ’em up soon.”

Willie is currently working on a new album of Merle Haggard songs. Might say a few prayers for our pal for rapid healing. He’ll be fine.

Bill Mack and Willie Nelson

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016


“Willie called me from his bus Tuesday to check things out. He said he was “somewhere in North Carolina, didn’t know exactly where”. He and his group will be performing in Charlottesville, Virginia Wednesday, May 25.

“That’s tomorrow night, isn’t it?”, he asked.

I replied, “Yep.”

He mentioned seeing former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, seated on the front row at the Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta Friday night. They are true fans of Willie. They sang along as he crooned “Georgia On My Mind”, then shared the stage with him for a moment, waving at the applauding audience of almost 7000 “Willie lovers”.

Merle Haggard was set to play the Atlanta show with Willie earlier this year. Kris Kristofferson replaced Hag after a “make-up” date was set for l last Friday. Willie said, “Kris did a super job.” “As expected,” I said. Will, like so many others, is still super sad over the passing of our old friend, Haggard. “Merle was like a brother to me,” said Willie. I replied, “I feel the same.”

Changing the subject, Will jokingly asked, “How long have you been in radio, Bill? As I recall, when you started they hadn’t even invented microphones!”

I replied, “Right. Since we didn’t have microphones, we used ‘smoke signals’. From what I hear, you still use ‘smoke signals’ don’t you?”

He laughed loudly and said,”Well, it’s always good to talk with you, pal. Guess I’d better take a short nap … or somethin’.”

I said, “Be careful on the bus, Will.”

He said, “Shut up, Bill! It’s my bus, I’ll do as I please. Maybe I’ll be careful … maybe I won’t.”

End of a needed bit of chatter with a super pal.

— Bill Mack

Paula Nelson, Bill Mack, Connie Nelson

Saturday, November 7th, 2015


“Two of my favorite Beauties: Paula Nelson and her precious mom, Connie. Paula, Willie’s daughter, is an award-winning vocalist — Connie has been my super pal for decades (No … she’s not old, never will be). I’ve never met a more caring individual. She’s always there if a friend is ill or having problems. When our good pal Ray Price was in failing health, Connie made daily calls of sincere concern. When he passed away, she made a solo trip from Austin to pay her respect for him, was one of the first to arrive at the church (just an example of many similar acts of respect and love). Both of these ladies reflect true warmth and realism. To know them is to love them.”

— Bill Mack

Happy birthday, Bill Mack

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

carls 10-9-10 077


Best wishes to Bill Mack for a great birthday.




Pauline Reese, pictured here with Willie Nelson and Bill Mack (photo from

Thanks to Cherie for this picture of Willie Nelson and Bill Mack at Willie’s Place, Carl’s Corner, Texas (12/16/09)


Willie Nelson and Cindy Mack

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


“Now … here’s one for the books!  My pal, Willie, layin’ a hug on my beautiful Cindy … on his bus! Forgot where I was when this picture was taken.  Oh, well! Willie said, ‘Don’t take it so serious, Bill.  It’s just show business!’

— Bill Mack

Willie Nelson, Bill Mack, “Drinking Champagne”

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Willie Wednesdays are back on SiriusXM Radio on Willie’s Roadhouse, with Bill Mack

Thursday, June 7th, 2012


Who says there isn’t enough good news anymore? This here’s some: Willie Nelson will resume his weekly telephone conversations with Bill Mack on Wednesdays, on Willie’s Roadhouse, on SiriusXM Radio. Commencing next Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Bill Mack will be hosting Willie’s Roadhouse in the afternoon, and Willie Nelson has kindly agreed to call in, visit with him,  and take calls from fans. Thanks, Willie!

And more good news for Bill Mack fans — he will be a regular on the radio again, every weeknight on the overnight hours.

If you have been thinking about subscribing to satellite radio, this will be a pretty good time to do so. For information on how you can subscribe and listen in your car, or in your house — or even over the internet, like I do — visit

Happy Birthday, Bill Mack

Monday, June 4th, 2012

carls 10-9-10 077


Best wishes to Bill Mack for a great birthday.




Pauline Reese, pictured here with Willie Nelson and Bill Mack (photo from

Thanks to Cherie for this picture of Willie Nelson and Bill Mack at Willie’s Place, Carl’s Corner, Texas (12/16/09)