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Maine Country Music Legend 'Mac' McHale Dies at Age 80
11/15/2012   Reported By: Tom Porter

A day after performing in Bangor, Maine country music star Allan "Mac" McHale died suddenly on Sunday at the age of 80. McHale was a musical legend in Maine, and had been inducted into the Maine Country Music Association Hall of Fame. Tom Porter has more on the life and legacy of one of Maine's best-known musicians.

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Maine Country Music Legend 'Mac' McHale Dies at Ag Listen
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AlanMcHale

(Recording of Mac McHale performing): That's the sound of Maine country music star Allan 'Mac' McHale (left), who died suddenly over the weekend aged 80. A native of Bangor, McHale grew up steeped in the northern New England country music tradition.

In a 2007 interview with MPBN's Frank Ferrel, McHale describes Bangor in the '40s and early '50s as a hotbed of country music on the radio.

Wonderful time - a great, great time, live country radio," he said. "Radio was king. I mean, if you saw somebody who had their own radio show, 'Wow, he's on the radio.' It was amazing, the power of country radio, absolutely amazing."

McHale says he grew up almost glued to the radio set, listening to New England country legends such as Hal Lone Pine and Gene Hooper. McHale's love for this genre led to the creation of the Old Time Radio Gang in 1986.

Mac McHale performed and toured for more than 60 years. He was a member of the Maine Country Music Association Hall of Fame, and was also inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Museum as a Pioneer of Bluegrass music.

He was also a great mentor for younger artists. "We played music together for 28 years," says friend and fellow musician Emery Hutchins, who first encountered McHale in the mid-70s. "He taught me about the music business, about stage presence, about how to communicate with an audience."

But Hutchins says there was one lesson in particular that he learned from Mac McHale: "And that was to enjoy going to work."

This past Saturday, the night before he died, McHale performed at the Grange Hall in Bangor - by coincidence the same place his musical career had begun as a teenager, 65 years earlier. On stage with him on his final gig was Carolyn Hutton, with whom McHale had teamed up in a duo called "Taylors Grove."

"I just remember the expression on his face when the music was right, when he was in the groove and he was smiling," Hutton says. "I will remember his hands on the strings of a mandolin or a guitar. He was completely into the music."

Mac McHale died in Bangor Sunday night of heart failure. He will be laid to rest at St. Martha's Church in Kennebunk this Saturday morning.



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