The cover of Mack Vickery's album Live at the Alabama's Women Prison, 1970.
June 8, 1938|
Town Creek, Alabama
December 21, 2004 (aged 66)|
Mack Vickery (June 8, 1938 – December 21, 2004) was a musician, songwriter, and inductee in the Hillbilly Hall of Fame and Alabama Music Hall of Fame, whose songs have been recorded by artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, George Thorogood, Johnny Cash, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr., George Jones and many other notable artists.
Born in Town Creek, Alabama, Vickery moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1957 and, considered leading man material, recorded for Sun Records, although nothing was initially released. Vickery continued to record for a number of minor labels and under various aliases, including "Vick Vickers" and "Atlanta James".
Vickery first scored a songwriting hit when Faron Young recorded Vickery's song "She Went A Little Bit Further", which reached number 14 on the Country Music charts in 1968. Vickery followed this with songs for artists like Johnny Cash, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck, Lefty Frizzell, James Carr, John Anderson, and Tanya Tucker.
Vickery's biggest hit as a writer was "The Fireman", recorded by George Strait, which reached number 5 in 1985, while his work with Jerry Lee Lewis brought him the most attention. Lewis recorded a number of Vickery's songs, including "Rockin' My Life Away", "Meat Man" (described as "two minutes and forty seconds of sexual boasts, delivered furiously and convincingly") and "Ivory Tears". Vickery became known as Lewis's "speechwriter", and "In Vickery, a fan as well as a professional, Jerry Lee had found someone who could articulate his troubles better than he himself ever could."  According to the book "Jerry Lee Lewis - His Own Story", Vickery was one of Lewis' best friends; Lewis stated that he was "like a brother".
Waylon Jennings recorded "The Eagle" which was written by Vickery along with Hank Cochran and Red Lane. This song was used as the unofficial "official theme song" of the First Gulf War as it was easy to relate the lyrics to the F-15 Eagle fighter jet. Jennings had recorded "Cedartown Georgia" earlier in his career, a 1971 hit that was co-written by Vickery, Sammi Smith and Charlie Cobble. Both songs are found on albums of the same names, respectively.
In 1970, Vickery recorded the album Live at the Alabama Women's Prison and reached the charts as a singer (under the name "Atlanta James") for the first time in 1974 with "That Kind of Fool" (also recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis) and again in 1977 with "Ishabilly" and "Here's to the Horses". Mack impressed many with his spot-on Elvis Presley impression on this album. Mack had known Elvis when they were both in the early stages of their careers.
Vickery was also friends with legendary Nashville disc jockey Ralph Emery and made numerous appearances on his early morning WSM television show. He also made several appearances on the Nashville Network (TNN) show Nashville Now.
In the 1970s Vickery toured with a comedian named Hollis Champion, a.k.a. "Elmer Fudpucker", and they also opened many shows for Jerry Lee Lewis.
In 1989 Vickery won the Music City News "Song Of The Year Award" for "I'll Leave This World Loving You", a hit for Ricky Van Shelton. In 2002, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame honored Vickery with a bronze star in its Walkway of Stars.
Vickery died of a heart attack in Nashville, Tennessee in 2004 at the age of 66. He had five older brothers: Robert Allen "R.A.", Quinton "Vick", Brice "Buster", Dave and Pat, and one sister, Willena "Toonce" Clark. All of his brothers are deceased.
- Guterman, Jimmy (1991). Rockin' My Life Away: Listening to Jerry Lee Lewis. Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill Press. ISBN 978-1558530812.
- Mather, Shaun (December 2002). "Vickery: Jaws Like a Bear Trap". Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- "Mack Vickery, Co-Writer of "The Fireman," Dead at 66". Country Music Television. 22 December 2004.