Southpaw bassist and South Carolina native Mac Arnold was only ten years old when he and his brother built a guitar out of a gas can, a couple strips of wood, a handful of nails, and some screen wire. Things just got better from there.
Arnold played in J. Floyd & the Shamrocks (who frequently featured a young James Brown on piano) while still in high school, and officially began his professional career when he joined Charles Miller’s band in the early '60s. He moved to Chicago around 1965 and began gigging with saxophonist A.C. Reed before hooking up with Muddy Waters and his band in 1966. The Waters stint led to a fair amount of studio work, and Arnold played bass on several 1960s blues albums, including Otis Spann’s The Blues Is Where It’s At and John Lee Hooker’s Live at Cafe Au Go Go.
In 1967 Arnold formed the Soul Invaders, who worked as a backing unit for B.B. King and the Temptations, among others. Arnold relocated to L.A. in the early '70s, where the session work continued (that’s Arnold playing bass on the Quincy Jones produced Sanford and Son theme song), and from 1971 to 1975 he was part of the set band for the Soul Train television show. A stretch backing up Bill Withers followed. By the 1980s Arnold had tired of the road and moved back to South Carolina, settling in his hometown of Pelzer, where for all practical purposes he retired from the music business. A group of local musicians kept after him to start performing again, though, which led to Arnold eventually fronting his own band, Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues. In 2006 the group released the self-produced album Nothing to Prove, officially credited to Plantation #1 Productions.