Mac Arnold is a legendary blues musician who has gone relatively unrecognized given his important contributions to music history. Throughout his career, he has played with James Brown, the Muddy Waters Band, Otis Spann, John Lee Hooker, and countless others.
Mac Arnold was born in Ware Place, South Carolina on a sharecropper’s farm. At the age of ten he learned to play his brother Leroy’s home-made guitar. He formed his first band in high school, which included James Brown on the piano. After some time he decided to pursue a professional career in music. In 1965, at age twenty-three, he moved to Chicago to work with A.C. Reed, and just a year later he had the opportunity to join the Muddy Waters Band as a bass player.
His place in the band gave him the opportunity to help create the electric blues sound that would inspire the rock and roll bands of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Arnold’s time with the Muddy Water’s Band meant he was able to work with the likes of Eric Clapton, Howlin’ Wolfe, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, and Elvin Bishop, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Junior Wells, Big Joe Williams, Big Mama Thornton, and more. After more than a year with Muddy Waters, Mac formed his own band, the Soul Invaders.
The Soul Invaders backed up many artists, including The Temptations and B. B. King. Later on, in the early 1970’s, Arnold moved to Los Angeles to work on ABC Television and LAFF RECORDS. This led to the opportunity to work on the set of “Soul Train” with his friend Don Cornelius from 1971 to 1975. He also played bass for the show “Sanford & Son” when he wasn't playing bass for Otis Redding and B.B. King. It was also during this time that he worked with Bill Withers on the classic song “Lean On Me.”
In the 1980’s, Mac Arnold returned to South Carolina to operate an organic farm in Pelzer. He still plays music with his own band, “Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues.” On September 23, 2017, Mac Arnold was inducted into the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame, solidifying his place in the annals of American blues musicians.