Chicago music entrepreneur, CHARLES “MACK” McMILLAN died on Monday January 26th. He was 81.
Born in North Carolina in 1933, his first employment was as a teacher of physical education in Chester, Pennsylvania. There he became the first African-American Director of the Chester Boys Club from 1956-1969, mentoring and teaching young men in health and physical education.
In 1969 McMillan moved to Chicago and changed career tack, forming Entertainment Consultants Inc, taking over the management of soul legends Jerry Butler, the Impressions and Curtis Mayfield when the latter went solo. His other clients included (at various times) Gene Chandler, Chuck Jackson, Ben E. King, The Temptations, Nancy Wilson, Diane Cannon, Richard Roundtree, Jessie Jackson, George Foreman, Blue Magic, The Dramatics, Jeffery Osbourne, The Chi-Lites, Reba McIntyre, Flip Wilson, Dionne Warwick, Shirley Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Thelma Houston, Cissy Houston, Phyllis Hyman, Patti Labelle and the Dells. Quite a list!
Jerry Butler in particular has always been strong in praise of the man his artists knew as “Mack”. In his autobiography, the Ice Man wrote, “By 1983 I was spending so much time attending to the affairs of my beer business (a Butler side line) that I literally let the entertainment side go. Consequently my bookings began to dip. Had it not been for my long-time manager, Charles ‘Mack’ McMillan, my singing career probably would have been over years ago. He kept me working and my name before the public.”
Interestingly McMillan also appeared as an extra in a number of movies – most notably in Steve McQueen’s ‘Bullitt’. In later years McMillan returned to Chester and was again active in mentoring students and helping run activity clubs for teenagers.
Charles McMillan is survived by his two sons Karlton and Andre, his sister Loretta and numerous grandchildren.