Hugh McCracken
Born(1942-03-31)March 31, 1942
Glen Ridge, New Jersey
United States
DiedMarch 28, 2013(2013-03-28) (aged 70)
New York City, New York
United States
InstrumentsGuitar, harmonica, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, mandolin, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar[1]
Years active1960s–2013

Hugh Carmine McCracken (March 31, 1942 – March 28, 2013) was an American rock guitarist and session musician based in New York City, primarily known for his performance on guitar and also as a harmonica player. McCracken was additionally an arranger and record producer.[2][3]


Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, McCracken grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey.[4]

Especially in demand in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, McCracken appeared on many recordings by Steely Dan, as well as albums by Donald Fagen, Jimmy Rushing, Billy Joel, Roland Kirk, Roberta Flack, B. B. King, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, The Monkees, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Idris Muhammad, James Taylor, Phoebe Snow, Bob Dylan, Linda McCartney, Carly Simon, Graham Parker, Yoko Ono, Eric Carmen, Loudon Wainwright III, Lou Donaldson, Aretha Franklin, Bob James, Van Morrison, The Four Seasons, Hall & Oates, Don McLean, Hank Crawford, Jerry Jemmott, Gary Wright and Andy Gibb.

In the middle 1960s, McCracken played in a North Jersey night club cover band called The Funatics under the stage name of Mack Pierce. The band became Mario & The Funatics for a short time when it merged with saxophonist Mario Madison. He was a member of Mike Mainieri's White Elephant Orchestra (1969–1972),[5] a 20-piece experimental jazz-rock outfit based in New York City. The band was made up of Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, Warren Bernhardt, George Young, Frank Vicari, Michael Brecker, Ronnie Cuber, Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff, Randy Brecker, Barry Rogers, Jon Pierson, Steve Goodman, David Spinozza and Joe Beck.

Among the many albums he performed on was the 1970 recording by writer/critic Robert Palmer's Insect Trust, Hoboken Saturday Night, together with Bernard "Pretty" Purdie and Elvin Jones. In 1971, because of such high demand for his work, McCracken declined Paul McCartney's invitation to help form his new band, Wings.[6] McCracken also played on, arranged and co-produced with Tommy LiPuma, Dr. John's City Lights (1978) and Tango Palace (1979).

His most well-known work was the slide guitar solo in "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen,[7] the guitar solo in "Hey Nineteen" by Steely Dan, and the main guitar playing fills on Van Morrison classic "Brown-Eyed Girl".[8]


Hugh McCracken died on Thursday March 28, 2013 in Manhattan. He was 70. Holly, his wife of 43 years said the cause was leukemia.[3]



  1. ^ "Hugh McCracken Albums: songs, discography, biography, and listening guide". Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  2. ^ "Musicians' Institute". March 2, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (April 3, 2013). "Hugh McCracken, a Studio Musician in High Demand, Dies at 70". The New York Times. p. B8.
  4. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Hugh McCracken, 70, Who Made His Sound in Studios", The New York Times, April 6, 2013. Accessed June 13, 2015. "Hugh Carmine McCracken was born on March 31, 1942, in Glen Ridge, N.J., and grew up in nearby Hackensack."
  5. ^ All About Jazz. "Mike Mainieri at All About Jazz". Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  6. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (March 29, 2013). "Legendary Session Guitarist Hugh McCracken Dies". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  7. ^ "Eric Carmen interview". 2005. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  8. ^ "Hugh McCracken: Guitarist who worked for Lennon and McCartney". 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  9. ^ (according to the original album cover
  10. ^ Artie Kornfeld Tree, The – A Time To Remember! at Discogs
  11. ^ Insect Trust, The – Hoboken Saturday Night at Discogs
  12. ^ Eugene McDaniels – Outlaw at Discogs
  13. ^ Johnny Hallyday – Flagrant Delit at Discogs
  14. ^ Danny O'Keefe – Breezy Stories at Discogs
  15. ^ Dr. John – City Lights at Discogs
  16. ^ Dr. John – Tango Palace at Discogs