Frank Mackay

Published March 3, 2019 by A.J.B. Johnston

You reach the age that I’m at and you get used to having people you know pass away. It’s simply a part of life.

But last Wednesday, March 6, sitting on my bed in a Charlottetown hotel after a very long and busy day, I took my phone in hand to see if there were any emails I should read. The one I read from Eleanor Norrie stunned me. Frank MacKay, the legendary singer of the Lincolns and Soma and various plays, had undergone four hours of surgery after a heart attack and it wasn’t looking good. I couldn’t believe it.

And then Eleanor wrote again to tell me Frank was gone.

For me and thousands more who loved The Lincolns back in the 1960s, Frank MacKay was the essence of energy and vitality. And so he remained, including at the September 2018 reunion dances. The clock had seemingly rolled back fifty years. Frank’s voice and spirit were as full and powerful as ever. Six months later, that force of life was gone.

In late 2018 and early 2019, I sat down with Frank a couple of times to ask about his memories of Lincolns part of his lifeā€”for the book I’m writing. He was generous with his time and recollections, and keen to share anything he could. More than that, he responded to my requests for more information by writing about different chapters of his life, so I could extract what I needed. It was rich material.

My last request of Frank was that he consider writing the Afterword for the book. He agreed, and he sent me that work-in-progress one week before he died. It was not finished yet, but it was personal and moving. Frank said he thought it needed another few paragraphs. His focus was on how The Lincolns had likely saved his life. I don’t know if Frank went back to that text or not in the last week of his life. I’d like to think he did, that he had said exactly what he wanted to.

Here are three of the many photos I’ve collected over the last six months as I work on Dreams to Remember: The Life and Times of The Lincolns, Nova Scotia’s Legendary 1960s Band. Another departed Lincoln appears here as well, lead guitarist Frank Mumford.

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