Local Current Blog

Phantom Vibration’s Henry Mackaman passes away

Henry Mackaman, right, playing with Phantom Vibration last month at the Kitty Cat Klub. (Photo by Mark N Kartarik)


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.”

Listen to a Phantom Vibration song written by Henry here:


  • jeff mueller

    I play with Henry’s uncle Dan in The Melvilles. We kept an ear on Henry and had the privilege of sharing a night of music with Phantom Vibrations. Henry not only had influence on and the respect of the “young, up-and-coming” musicians, but us old, down-and-out musicians as well. Henry was and remains the real deal.

    • Gunnar K

      Jeff, that show with the Melvilles was one of our personal favorites. Getting to share the stage with Doug and Henry on the same night was a rare privilege. He admired you guys so much. Thanks for the support!

      • jeff mueller

        Gunnar, are the drum master with Phantom? If you are, I think we met. Your work is super tasty. Well done. I can’t tell you how sick I and all The Melvilles are about Henry. It was an honor to be a part of MackamanFest on that night in St. Paul. Play on brother.

  • Starquest

    I don’t want to cast aspersions on the hospital (apparently Meriter in this case), and I realize that hindsight is 20/20. But meningitis happens to college students. It’s not common, but it happens. A fever of 104 in an otherwise healthy individual should have been an enormous red flag. He obviously should not have been sent home Saturday night.

    • I’m not a dr., but it seems like a 21year old with 104 fever would be assumed to have meningitis until it is ruled out. I’m guessing they did rule it out but the test was wrong. Right?

      • Starquest

        No. A lumbar puncture is required to test for meningitis. They didn’t do that until he came back on Monday.

        On the other hand, it is a vicious, insidious disease. It may have been too late for him even on Saturday. We’ll never know.

  • May Henry’s beautiful, talented young soul rest in peace.
    Henry will be making the angels and the Lord proud as he makes his joyful sounds in heaven.
    God bless, and keep Henry’s family strong in unity, as they grieve the sudden loss of their loved one. Prayers of love and hope for the bereaving family and friends……..Deana

  • oh how tragic. my prayers are with the family!

  • Christy Spindler

    I just wrote a long comment and it isn’t posted. Where did it go?