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Mack Owen

Mack Owen Biography

Mack Owen’s only record was a master purchase signed and sealed on November 20, 1959. The music seemed to suggest that Owen needed special material to thrive. To be blunt, uptempo numbers were not his forte. On “Walkin’ and Talkin’,” he seems ill at ease, and even resorts to coarsening his voice for emphasis. It’s not a pretty sound. In contrast, everything comes together on “Somebody Just Like you,” a tune that seems custom crafted for Owen’s quirky vocal style. This is a mighty fine record. It may not have been what Sun fans were seeking in January 1960, but it had everything it needed to dent the charts in a serious way, without embarrassing any of the participants. The chorus provides smooth and restrained harmony, the brushwork is tasty and minimalist, and the piano supports Owen’s vocal admirably. It’s anyone’s guess why this record didn’t garner wider exposure. A hit like this on Sun at the start of the 1960s might have altered Sun’s direction considerably.

Owen is one of the shadowier figures in Sun history. The little we know is this: he was born in Athens, Alabama on July 27, 1936, and worked Chicago on Chicago Bandstand. Someone from Sun Records heard him there, making it almost certain that SUN-336 was recorded in Chicago. Owen never recorded again and became a preacher in the early 1960s. He quit the ministry to work for the International Union of Glassworkers and was living in Indianapolis when he died on October 10, 1991.

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