Bill Mack, ‘Blue’ songwriter and famed country radio broadcaster, dies at age 88

Bill Mack, a country music songwriter and famed “Midnight Cowboy” radio broadcaster, died Friday at age 88. 

Mack died of COVID-19 complications and “underlying health issues,” according to a social media post from his son, Billy Mack Smith.  

“He was an amazing father, grandfather, great grandfather and husband to my mom,” wrote Smith, a program director and on-air personality at 93.1 KSTV in Stephenville, Texas. “I’m blessed to have had not only a great dad but my best friend as well.”

A Texas Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Mack may be best known for hosting the overnight “Country Roads Show” on WBAP, an AM radio station based in Forth Worth. Mack began hosting “Road Show” — which later became known as “Midnight Cowboy Trucking Show” — in 1969. 

The WBAP clear channel signal reached late-night listeners in Texas and beyond. Catering to truckers logging long miles between dusk and dawn, Mack kept “the world company with his music and chit-chat,” per the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association. 

Bill Mack, aka the Midnight Cowboy, works during his Fort Worth, Texas, area radio program the "All-Night Trucking Show" on Feb. 13, 1997.

“Nobody in broadcasting has a more recognizable voice than Bill Mack,” the association’s website wrote. 

Mack’s lengthy broadcasting career also included time on XM Satellite Radio and as host of syndicated program “Country Crossroads.” He’d often crack the mic with some of country music’s most storied figures, including Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty and Roy Clark. 

Bill Mack, aka the Midnight Cowboy, is shown in this undated personal photo with country singer LeAnn Rimes. Mack received a Grammy Award for writing Rimes' hit "Blue."

As a songwriter, Mack most notably penned “Blue,” which LeAnn Rimes made famous as a chart-topping hit in 1996. The recording earned Mack a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. The Texas native also wrote “Drinking Champagne,” a song best known as a top five country radio hit for George Strait in 1990. 

Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones and Dean Martin also recorded tunes from Mack’s songbook. 

“2020 has claimed another one of the greats,” Rimes shared Friday via Twitter. “Very sad to hear the news that Bill Mack has left us. I am forever grateful for him and the music he created. Sending all my love to his family. We’ll be ‘Blue’ without you Bill.”

Mack, a native of Shamrock, Texas, joined the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 1982 and earned a spot in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. 

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