Local musician writes song dedicated to Alaskan legend

Celebrate the life and legacy of Lance Mackey with his song, potluck, and silent auction
Updated: Oct. 8, 2022 at 5:58 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A local musician has teamed up with an Alaskan dog musher to pay tribute to the late 4-time Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey.

Fairbanks’s own John Shewfelt Jr. said his inspiration for writing the story was based on the legacy left behind by Mackey.

Shewfelt says the song basically wrote itself. “Writing the song was kind of like paying tribute to the person that he was,” said Shewfelt. “You can describe him in many words, but legend just comes out.”

Lance Mackey’s career with dog mushing spread across a 20-year career. Mackey won 4 consecutive Yukon Quest wins along with 4 consecutive Iditarod wins. These are just a few of his many achievements in the sport.

“I wanted people to discover who the guy was and maybe that will motivate them to do just a little bit more with their life,” Shewfelt explained. “Because the guy did so much with his life, he was sick most of the time so, that should motivate anybody.”

Mackey was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001. Despite this, he was able to overcome his illness and go on to win several races.

In August of 2021, Mackey announced his cancer was back for the second time.

“I’d always call him “Legend,” said Shewfelt. “He always had a smirk on his face because he knew I was messing with him, but he was a legend.”

Shewfelt said the song “Legend of Lance” was almost like Lance wrote the song himself. “It was like lightbulbs going off,” he described.

Hugh Neff a fellow musher had reached out to Shewfelt with the idea for the song. John called him back a few hours later and it was done.

“For a creative person, all we need is a spark,” said Shewfelt. “I sat down and in like 20 minutes, I wrote that song.”

For Shewfelt, the song holds a special place in his heart. He played the song at Mackey’s celebration of life back in September. He said there was one line of the song that stood out to him and others. The lyrics are written, ”You couldn’t even write this story, even if you tried.”

“When I went and played at his service, his family told me that he used to say that all the time but I didn’t know that,” said Shewfelt. “And it was very overwhelming. They were like, yeah, you brought it full circle when you wrote that line on the bridge and brought it back.”

Shewfelt said when he was writing the song he felt it was almost as if Lance was there writing it too.

Mackey died at the age of 52 on September 7, 2022.

For those who want to celebrate the life and legacy of Lance Mackey, there will be a potluck and silent auction on Saturday, October 8, 2022, at the Howling Dog Saloon at 7 p.m.

All proceeds from the auction will go to Lance Mackey’s two children.

At the event, John Shewfelt and the Shot Time will be performing the song.