- Mar 31, 1942
- Mar 28, 2013
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Hugh C. McCracken (March 31, 1942 – March 28, 2013) was an American rock guitarist and session musician based in New York City, primarily known for his performance on guitar and also as a harmonica player. McCracken was additionally an arranger and producer.
Especially in demand in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, McCracken appeared on many recordings by Steely Dan, as well as albums by Donald Fagen, Jimmy Rushing, Billy Joel, Roland Kirk, Roberta Flack, B. B. King, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, The Monkees, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Idris Muhammad, James Taylor, Phoebe Snow, Bob Dylan, Linda McCartney, Carly Simon, Graham Parker, Yoko Ono, Eric Carmen, Loudon Wainwright III, Lou Donaldson, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, The Four Seasons, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Hank Crawford, Jerry Jemmott, Gary Wright and Andy Gibb.
In the middle 1960s, McCracken played in a North Jersey night club cover band called The Funatics under the stage name of Mack Pierce. The band became Mario & The Funatics for a short time when it merged with saxophonist Mario Madison. He was a member of Mike Mainieri’s White Elephant Orchestra (1969–1972), a 20-piece experimental jazz-rock outfit based in New York City. The band was made up of Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, Warren Bernhardt, George Young, Frank Vicari, Michael Brecker, Ronnie Cuber, Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff, Randy Brecker, Barry Rogers, Jon Pierson, Steve Goodman, David Spinozza and Joe Beck.
Among the many albums he performed on was the 1970 recording by writer/critic Robert Palmer’s Insect Trust, Hoboken Saturday Night, together with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Elvin Jones. In 1971, because of such high demand for his work, McCracken declined Paul McCartney’s invitation to help form his new band, Wings. McCracken also played on, arranged and co-produced with Tommy LiPuma, Dr. John’s City Lights (1978) and Tango Palace (1979).
McCracken died of leukemia in New York City at the age of 70.
My answering service got a call asking me if I’d like to audition for Ram, but I was in Florida working on an Aretha Franklin record and didn’t pick up the message until I got back into town. I was disappointed but happy that David [Spinozza] had gotten the job.Hugh McCracken, from MixOnline, August 1, 2004
When David Spinozza left the RAM sessions, Hugh McCracken had another call from Linda McCartney:
Linda asked me to hang on while she put Paul on the phone. Paul simply asked me if I could be in the studio the following morning at nine o’clock. I cancelled the sessions I had and made the date.Hugh McCracken, from MixOnline, August 1, 2004
Last updated on May 30, 2020