The year was 1944, when James Russell McIntosh was born into a world held hostage by a madman of gargantuan proportions. Fortunately, for the world, the tide had already turned against Hitler and his thugs in what perhaps is the twentieth century's greatest example of how good triumphs over evil.
James Russell McIntosh was child number six of the eight children, (five girls and three boys), born to James Harold McIntosh and Alice Esther Fisher. James Harold McIntosh had to leave high school the year his own father died in an automobile accident October 29, 1930. It seems James Harold played hooky from school and his father was killed while out looking for his truant son. Alice Esther Fisher married James Harold McIntosh on April 22, 1938 . Alice was one of those rare human beings who had a natural affection for all people. Although she always confessed to her own children that she had been a spoiled brat, as an adult no one would have guessed it to be true.
James Russell McIntosh attended Central School in West Newbury, Massachusetts. It was here in this school that housed grades one through eight that a buddy started calling him Jimmy Mack, and it has stuck with him ever since. In the sixth grade Jimmy was taught by Doris P. Davis, the teacher who had a profound impact on both Jimmy and his older brother John. John played the guitar (rather poorly) and when he left high school for the military, Jimmy took over the guitar and immediately displayed an uncommon ability to listen to a song on the radio or record player and figure out how to play.
Jimmy's earliest recollection of singing was a song his older sister Eva taught her siblings to sing to keep their minds off of their empty stomachs while waiting for their mother to return from grocery shopping. He was also undoubtedly influenced by the fact that his father James Harold McIntosh was an accomplished harmonica player, as was Jimmy's aunt Thelma. Also, his maternal grandmother played piano at silent picture shows.
One of Jimmy's earliest bands was The Rhythm Kings. A seven piece band featuring four guitars, bass, drums and saxophone. A few weeks before the Kennedy Assassination The Rhythm Kings received a very favorable write up in the home town paper. Jimmy went on the road in his late teens working all up and down the east coast in a number of different bands. In those days he was called Little Chuck, because he played a lot of Little Richard and Chuck Berry material. He performed on stage with many of the biggest name stars from the fifties through the present; and probably learned something from everyone of them. In fact he picked up his first tips on singing early in his career while working in the same club with Johnny Mathis.
The Fugitives was another early band Jimmy worked with. It was a rhythm and blues band that was powered by the works of artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave and many others. Another important experience for Jimmy was The Raw Meat, a band that fused jazz with rock. The Raw Meat played for an extended period at the Cheetah at 310 West Fifty-second Street in New York City and released a 45 titled "Funky Hump Back" on the Musicor label. Unfortunately, the band broke up two weeks before a promised appearance on The Ed Sullivan show so they never achieved what Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago accomplished with the same sound. Jimmy Mack Biography - page two
The next "long lasting" band was Dr Grabow which featured the sounds that lead to great success for The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Elton John, etc. What followed was City Lights, this dynamic horn band opened for Natalie Cole at Boston Symphony Hall February 8, 1976, one of her first major concerts.
In the 80's Jimmy shared several tours with the cult favorite Roy Buchanan until Roy tragically hung himself in a Fairfax County, Virginia jail. Jimmy had great hopes working with Roy because Roy had such a high regard for Jimmy's ability. Roy once said in a Toronto television interview that to succeed "You have to surround yourself with professionals and that is what I have done". That comment and especially playing guitar on stage with Roy meant a lot to Jimmy since it came from the man about whom Rolling Stone magazine in 1971 wrote: "Roy Buchanan provides what may well be the best rock-guitar picking in the world."
In between these major efforts Jimmy worked with countless bands covering nearly every imaginable musical genre including: rock, jazz, disco, folk, top 40, blues, R & B, soul, show bands, country western, and gospel. He worked on the development of a rock band called Rainbow Magic that featured a magician. To Jimmy's great delight, he played for some time with the Unbelievable Babe Pino, the most under-rated blues harp player in America.
When playing guitar failed to pay the rent, Jimmy supplemented his income by working as a short-order cook, carpenter's helper, well digger, roofer's helper, laborer, mason's helper, handy man, hazardous wastes handler and even worked as an audio tape expert for a team of high priced attorney's because of the incredible sensitivity of his hearing.
Having worked with such a variety of styles of music explains why his original tunes draw from so many different traditions. Jimmy's music offers quite a challenge to the music critic - it defies categorization. In fact someone once said that the song "Stones" sounds like Bob Dylan meets James Brown.
"Stones" is one of the twelve songs that appear on Jimmy Mack's first CD - The Sounds of My Life Volume One. This concept album was jointly produced by James and his brother John. The two brothers had attempted collaborations earlier in Jimmy's career, but financial constraints always subverted their efforts. Finally, in March of 1996, when they lost their mother Alice McIntosh to pancreatic cancer, they pledged to join forces once again to produce an album in her memory.
The Sounds of My Life - Volume One was thirty-five plus years in the making. It's the story of James Russell, a fictitious guitar player, singer, song writer based on Jimmy Mack's life and music. Volume One takes place during the characters last few months in high school. The James Russell story unfolds over several volumes and is essentially a story of good conquering evil.