St. Paul native Henry Mackaman, best known to the Twin Cities music community as the guitarist, producer, and co-founder of dream-pop band Phantom Vibration, passed away yesterday of bacterial meningitis. He was 21 years old.
Mackaman’s illness was sudden. A high fever landed him in the emergency room on Saturday night, but was sent home after doctors determined it was not pneumonia. By Monday, he was back at the hospital with more symptoms, and the infection escalated so quickly that he was moved to the ICU.
“He needed to show some sign that his brain was still active. After many tests today, the doctors have determined that there is no activity there,” Henry’s family members posted to his Caring Bridge site yesterday. “We are all devastated. Our strong and loved son, grandson, brother, nephew, and friend has lost his fight against bacterial meningitis.”
Mackaman grew up in St. Paul and recently moved to Madison, Wisconsin, though he was still returning home frequently enough to keep Phantom Vibration active here in the Twin Cities. The group just announced last month that they were hard at work on a new album, which would serve as a follow-up to their trio of debut concept EPs, and had just played the Kitty Cat Klub on March 23.
The sudden loss comes as a hard blow for the young community of up-and-coming musicians with which Phantom Vibration often shared bills.
“He in so many ways exemplified what we strived for, and all we can do now is to live on holding up the same belief that he brought to our music. Thank you Henry for giving us so much. We will love you forever,” Henry’s bandmate Daniel Clinton-McCausland wrote on Phantom Vibration’s Facebook page.
“His enthusiasm for and skill at creating music was a constant inspiration for everyone around him,” added Mickey Davis, who frequently performed with Phantom Vibration in his project the Olsen Twinns. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today in music if it weren’t for him.”