Jimmy Mack

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For the Scottish television and radio presenter, see Jimmy Mack (broadcaster). For the British actor, see Jimmy Mac (actor). For the political activist, see Jimmy McMillan. For the comedian “Uncle Jimmy Mack”, see James McNair.
"Jimmy Mack"
Single by Martha and the Vandellas
from the album Watchout!
B-side "Third Finger, Left Hand"
Released February 3, 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); March 2, 1964
Genre Soul/pop
Length 2:53
Label Gordy
G 7058
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Brian Holland
Lamont Dozier
Martha and the Vandellas singles chronology
"I'm Ready for Love"
"Jimmy Mack"
"Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone"
Music sample
"Jimmy Mack"
Single by Sheena Easton
from the album Do You
Released 1985
Genre Pop
Length 4:12
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers

"Jimmy Mack" is a pop/soul song that in 1967 became a hit single by Martha and the Vandellas for Motown's Gordy imprint. Written and produced by Motown's main creative team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, "Jimmy Mack" was the final Top 10 hit for the Vandellas in the United States, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 and at number-one on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.[1]


The song, with a lead vocal by the Vandellas' lead singer Martha Reeves in the 1967 version, is sung from the point of view of a woman who longs for the return of boyfriend "Jimmy Mack". The woman is being courted by another suitor, who she says "talks just as sweet as" her long-gone Jimmy, and she hopes for Jimmy to return before she falls for the other man.

The inspiration for the song came from a 1964 music industry awards dinner, which Lamont Dozier attended. At the ceremony the mother of songwriter Ronnie Mack accepted an award for her son, who had recently died, for his composition He's So Fine. Under pressure to come up with a hit for Reeves and the Vandellas, Dozier and the team penned this song in part as a tribute to Mack the writer.[2]

"Jimmy Mack" was originally recorded in 1964 when Annette Beard was still a part of the group. The song was shelved because the Motown Quality Control team felt the recording was not suitable for release with the Vietnam War going on. Like Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' later hit, "The Tears of a Clown", "Jimmy Mack" was pulled from the vault two years later and released as a single in early 1967. By that time, the Vietnam War had become a highly debated issue among the American public. Thus, Reeves' sentiment that her "Jimmy Mack" return took on a different meaning for many listeners, particularly those stationed overseas.[3]

"Jimmy Mack" was a success, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the second and final Vandellas single to top the Billboard R&B chart. The song had been included on the Vandellas' LP Watchout!, issued a month before the single release. For nearly forty years, "Jimmy Mack" was presented in either monaural sound or in a mix culled from an alternate take. A true stereo mix of the original single master was not done until 2005, for The Motown Box, then appearing in 2006 on the compilation Martha & the Vandellas: Gold.


Other versions[edit]

Sheena Easton's remake of "Jimmy Mack" was issued as the second single from her 1985 Do You album to peak at #65. The song has also been remade by Laura Nyro (on the 1971 Gonna Take a Miracle album featuring Labelle), Charity Brown, Bonnie Pointer and Phil Collins (on the 2010 Going Back album). Karen Carpenter recorded a demo of this song for her solo album but it was never completed or released.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 378. 
  2. ^ Jimmy Mack Songfacts
  3. ^ Mariscal, Jorge (Mar. 22, 2003). "Johnny Mack, When Are You Coming Back?" . Counter Punch. Retrieved from http://www.counterpunch.org/mariscal03222003.html on July 30, 2006.

See also[edit]

Preceded by
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" by Aretha Franklin
Billboard's Hot Rhythm & Blues number one single
March 16, 1967
Succeeded by
"Respect" by Aretha Franklin