Nova Scotia

Legendary Nova Scotia singer Frank MacKay dies

Fans are mourning the death of Frank MacKay, a beloved Nova Scotia musician and frontman of the legendary 1960s dance band The Lincolns. The New Glasgow-born singer died Wednesday following surgery.

Frontman for 1960s dance band The Lincolns as well as solo artist, actor

Nova Scotia singer and actor Frank MacKay, who died Wednesday, is shown in this recent photo with Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro-Bible Hill. (Facebook photo)

Fans are mourning the death of Frank MacKay, a beloved Nova Scotia musician and frontman of the legendary 1960s dance band The Lincolns.

The New Glasgow-born singer died Wednesday following surgery.

MacKay joined The Lincolns during the golden age of rock and roll.

The Truro-based band toured the region, drawing large crowds to dance halls across the Maritimes. The band played a popular repertoire of soul classics.

Teen singing sensation

Bandmate Rod Norrie, a drummer and original member of the Lincolns, spoke about MacKay with CBC Mainstreet on Thursday.

He says he'll never forget the first time he ran into MacKay, a teenager at the time, when the band was playing a gig in the basement of a Truro bowling alley.

"Often we would have people come out of the crowd and say, 'I want to play the piano, I want to play guitar, I want to sing' ... and, you know, you didn't really look forward to it because you hadn't practised with anybody like that. So it was kind of a chore for us," he said.

"But [MacKay] came in and stood there down in front of the stage and said, 'I want to sing.' So we made some preparations and he took the microphone and started to sing. He sang about two notes and I was looking around at the other guys in the band saying, 'Oh my God. Where did this guy come from.' You know he stood right out immediately."

Nova Scotia musician and actor Frank MacKay died Wednesday. (Facebook photo)

The band snapped him up and MacKay became their lead singer, Norrie said.

"We were just very lucky to find Frank. He found us and we just never looked back. Never have."

The loss of MacKay is a "major hit," he said.

"You dread something like that will happen, but you know you don't expect it and it always blindsides you."

Powerful voice

After the band broke up in 1969, MacKay attracted national attention as a member of the hard rock group Soma in the early 1970s.

Toronto Star music writer Peter Goddard said MacKay's road-seasoned voice was "so powerful it could cut through a platinum slab."

MacKay eventually became a solo artist, writing his own songs and maintaining the interpretive skills he'd honed with The Lincolns.

He also made the leap to acting, most notably with the musical stage show "Rock and Roll."

The 1985 CBC-TV production of the play — retitled "The King of Friday Night" — earned MacKay an ACTRA Award nomination.

MacKay went on to appear on stages across the country, becoming a familiar presence at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax and festivals across the Maritimes.

Meanwhile, The Lincolns staged a number of reunion concerts in recent years.

Nearly half a century after its heyday, hundreds of fans flocked to the band's favourite stage in the auditorium of the Truro Royal Canadian Legion last September.

MORE TOP STORIES

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC Mainstreet

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.