Mac Wiseman, Bluegrass and Country Music Pioneer, Passes Away

Mac Wiseman, bluegrass and country music pioneer, has passed away. Wiseman, who died at a rehab facility just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, was 93 years old at the time of his death.

Born in Crimora, Virginia, Wiseman was stricken by polio as a child, which left him with his right leg a bit shorter than his left. Still, the disability never slowed down Wiseman, who showed an early propensity for musical talents.

Over the course of Wiseman's legendary career, he filled almost every role in music, including working as a disc jockey, and performed as both a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with several bluegrass and country artists, including with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys, and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. He was also a member of Molly O'Day's band.

As a solo artist, Wiseman released several hit singles, including "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy," "Shackles & Chains," "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight" and more.

Wiseman was also a founding member of the Country Music Association. He was a member of both the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

"Mac Wiseman was not only a key figure in the history of Country Music, but also in the history of our organization," said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "I enjoyed my personal relationship with Mac, and both he and Jo Walker Meador shared rich stories of the early days of CMA. Mac made a broad impact on both the music and business sides of our industry.

"He deeply understood how country music worked thanks to his eclectic history," she continued, "and he was an early adopter of the idea that our format is strengthened when we all step into the circle together."

Wiseman, who also received a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, called being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame among his greatest achievements.

"I'd given up on it, to be honest," he told The Tennessean after finding out he would be inducted. "But when they called and told me, it was the biggest thing musically that's ever happened to me."

In 2017, Wiseman released his final album, I Sang the Song, which was his musical autobiography. That record included guest appearances by an impressive list of artists, including John Prine, Jim Lauderdale, Alison Krauss and more.


Wiseman is survived by his five children. Funeral services are pending.

Photo Credit: Alan Poizner/CMA