Mack Rice, whose biggest hit as a singer and songwriter was the enduring rhythm-and-blues classic “Mustang Sally,” died on Monday at his home in Detroit. He was 82.
The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said a spokeswoman for his family, Pat Lewis.
Detroit became his home, but Memphis and Stax Records were Mr. Rice’s muse. His “Mustang Sally” and “Respect Yourself,” a hit for the Staple Singers that he wrote with Luther Ingram, have been recorded by artists ranging from B. B. King to Bruce Willis.
He was born Bonny Rice in Clarksdale, Miss., on Nov. 10, 1933, to Robert McIlvaine and Irene Williamson. (Rice was his mother’s original last name.) Ike Turner, who was two years older and would also become a professional musician, was a boyhood mentor.
“Ike was trying to teach me to play piano, but I wasn’t interested,” Mr. Rice recalled in an interview with The Commercial Appeal of Memphis in 2007.
In 1950, he moved with his family to Detroit, where he graduated from high school. After he served in the Army in Germany, his mother showed him a newspaper advertisement that said a local R&B group called the Falcons was recruiting singers.
He soon began singing with the Falcons, whose other members included Wilson Pickett, Joe Stubbs and Eddie Floyd. But he would find real fame as a songwriter.
“Mustang Sally” began as “Mustang Mama,” which he was inspired to write by the newly introduced Ford Mustang sports car. It was Aretha Franklin, the pianist on Mr. Rice’s demo of the song, who persuaded him to rename it.
He recorded “Mustang Sally” as Sir Mack Rice in 1965 (he was knighted by the record’s producer, Andre Williams), and it reached No. 15 on the Billboard R&B chart.
A year later, Pickett’s recording of the song, with its “Ride, Sally, ride” chorus, became a phenomenon. The song was ranked No. 434 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” published in 2004, and covered by the Rascals and many others.
“Until then, I wasn’t writing for a living,” Mr. Rice said. “I was writing for a feeling.”
Asked to explain the appeal of “Mustang Sally,” he told The Detroit Free Press in 2000: “I don’t knock it, but I can’t tell you why it’s lasted. It’s a good old funky song. It got to be a slang thing, and then it went crossover.”
His “Respect Yourself,” an anthem of self-empowerment that became a Top 20 pop hit for the Staple Singers in 1971, began, “If you disrespect anybody that you run in to/How in the world do you think anybody’s s’posed to respect you?”
Mr. Rice also wrote for the Stax recording artists Albert King (“Cadillac Assembly Line”), Johnnie Taylor (“Cheaper to Keep Her”) and Rufus Thomas (“Do the Funky Penguin”).
He later ran an asphalt company in Detroit, performed at festivals and continued to record until he retired in 2006.
He is survived by his wife, Laura Mauldin; his sons, Rodney, Dwayne and Bonny Jr.; and two sisters, Mary Lee and Berta Lee.
Bonny "Mack" Rice (November 10, 1933 – June 27, 2016), sometimes credited as Sir Mack Rice, was anAmerican songwriter and singer. His best-known composition, and biggest hit as a solo performer, was "Mustang Sally." He also wrote "Respect Yourself" with Luther Ingram.
Rice was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He began his work in the R&B field in the 1950s based in Detroit, performing with the Five Scalders in 1956 and with the Falcons, a group whose members included Eddie Floyd,Wilson Pickett and Joe Stubbs, from 1957 to 1963. He performed as a solo vocalist in the years to follow, but his biggest successes were as songwriter for other artists on labels like Stax and others in the 1960s and following decades. He began his solo vocalist career at Stax in 1967, recording on Atco Records beginning in 1968. Rice is one of the few musicians whose career touched both Motown and Stax Records.
As a solo recording artist, he had two chart hits: "Mustang Sally", which reached number 15 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1965, and "Coal Man", which reached number 48 on the soul music chart in 1969. Besides "Mustang Sally", which also became a major hit for Wilson Pickett in 1966, and "Respect Yourself", a hit for the Staple Singers, his other songs include "Betcha Can't Kiss Me (Just One Time)", "Cheaper to Keep Her", "Cadillac Assembly Line", "Money Talks", "Cold Women With Warm Hearts", "Do the Funky Penguin, Pt. 1", "It Sho Ain't Me", and "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'". His compositions have been performed by many well-known artists, including the Staple Singers, Ike and Tina Turner, Albert King, Johnnie Taylor, Shirley Brown, Rufus Thomas, Etta James, Billy Eckstine, Eddie Floyd, Buddy Guy, The Rascals, The Kingsmen, Wilson Pickett, Albert Collins, Busta Rhymes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Otis Clay and The Blues Brothers (in Blues Brothers 2000).
In 1992, backed by the soul band The Dynatones, Rice released his first solo album, Right Now on Blue Suit Records, recorded and mixed by Steve Scharren at Scharren Studios in Toledo, Ohio. On it he reprised a number of his hit songs along with a mixture of new tunes.
Rice continued to live in the Detroit area. He died at home in Detroit on June 27, 2016, aged 82, from complications of Alzheimer's disease.