From: London, England
Fleetwood Mac is one of those bands that became hugely popular in the mid-late 1970s under the Classic Rock genre with few of their fans ever realizing that they had started out way back in the late 60s as a barebones blues-rock ensemble. They were formed in July, 1967 by Peter Green (guitar, vocals) after he left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers along with Mick Fleetwood (drums) to start a new group. Green and Fleetwood had also previously played together in Peter B's Looners and then the Shotgun Express with Rod Stewart. Green also wanted John McVie (bass) to quit the Bluesbreakers and join the fledgling outfit and even named it "Fleetwood Mac" by combining his and Fleetwood's last names as an enticement. McVie initially turned down the offer, sticking with the Bluesbreakers, so Green recruited Bob Brunning (bass) and Jeremy Spencer (guitar, vocals) to close out the original lineup. This version of the band made its debut on August 13, 1967 at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival as "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer". Brunning only played at a handful of gigs with the group and within weeks of this show, John McVie agreed to replace him as permanent bassist.
Fleetwood Mac's first, self-titled LP was issued on the Blue Horizon label in early 1968 and is a no-frills blues record. The album was hugely successful in the U.K. hitting #4, though it did not have any singles on it. Soon after, the band released two singles 'Black Magic Woman' (later a big hit for Santana) and 'Need Your Love So Bad'. The band's second LP ('Mr. Wonderful') was released in the summer of 1968 and like the first is an all-blues album, but was recorded live in the studio with miked-up amplifiers and a PA system, rather than plugged into a soundboard. This method provided the ideal environment for producing this style of raw blues music, and gave it an authentically vintage sound. They also added horns and featured a friend of the band on keyboards, Christine Perfect of Chicken Shack, prior to her marriage to John McVie.
Shortly after the release of their second album, Fleetwood Mac added Danny Kirwan (guitar, vocals), then just eighteen years old, to their line-up after Green was hugely impressed with his playing in his former band Boilerhouse. Green had also been frustrated that Jeremy Spencer had little desire to contribute to his songs and a mature and accomplished self-taught guitarist, Kirwan's signature vibrato and unique style added a new dimension to an already complete band. With Kirwan, the band issued their first #1 single in Europe ('Albatross') and around this time they released their second U.S. LP ('English Rose'), which containes half of 'Mr. Wonderful', new songs from Kirwan, and their third European album titled ‘The Pious Bird Of Good Omen’, which is a collection of singles, B-sides, and a selection of some work the band did with Eddie Boyd.
When the band traveled to the U.S. in January, 1969, they recorded a slew of songs at the soon-to-close Chess Records Studio with some Chicago blues legends including Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Otis Spann. These tracks would prove however to be Fleetwood Mac's last all-blues recordings. Along with their change of music style, the band left the all-blues Blue Horizon label and signed with Immediate Records, releasing the U.K. and European hit single 'Man Of The World'. Immediate was in bad shape at this time however, so the band shopped around for a new deal and even though The Beatles wanted the group on Apple Records (Mick Fleetwood and George Harrison were brothers-in-law), their manager Clifford Davis decided to go with Warner Bros. (through Reprise Records, a Frank Sinatra-founded label), the label they have stayed with ever since.
Fleetwood Mac's first LP for Reprise ('And Then Play On') was issued in the fall of 1969 and is a very good psych-rock effort. Although the initial pressing of the U.S. release of this album was the same as the U.K. version, it was altered to contain the outstanding track 'Oh Well', which still receives airplay on classic rock stations to this day. Other great tracks on the record include 'Like Crying', 'My Dream' and 'Underway'.
By the end of 1969, Green was in poor mental health after taking too much LSD while in Germany. His last hit with Fleetwood Mac was the excellent, hard-driving 'The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Prong Crown)'. This recording was released as a single only (b/w the excellent 'World In Harmony') in early 1970 as Green's mental stability deteriorated and he wanted to give all of the band's money to charity. Other members of the group did not agree, and subsequently Green decided to leave.
After Green's departure, the band continued to move in a progressive rock direction adding Christine McVie (keyboards, vocals) as an official member, who was now married to John. This lineup issued the LP 'Kiln House' in the fall of 1970 and continued on until early 1971 when Spencer told the rest of the band he was "going out for a magazine", but never returned, joining a religious cult. Auditions were held after his departure, but the band finally settled on U.S. guitarist Bob Welch through a recommendation of a mutual friend (Judith Wong who was the wife of Jethro Tull's bassist, Glenn Cornick). With Welch on board, the group issued the LP 'Future Games' in the fall of 1971, which ushered them into the early 70s with open arms. This was the beginning of what is now considered Fleetwood Mac's "Welch era", which kept them rolling strong into 1974.
The Welsh era finally came to a close when he left the band and moved to Paris in early 1975. The group was now in desperate need for a guitarist again and a chance meeting between Fleetwood and Lindsay Buckingham (guitar, vocals) in California sparked a quick friendship and brought Buckingham into Mac's fold. Buckingham brought along with him his then girlfriend Stevie Nicks (vocals) rounding off the quintet. This lineup of course became hugely popular, scoring hit upon hit throughout the mid 70s and into the late 80s until Buckingham finally left. The band forged on however taking a brief hiatus in the mid 90s, but hit it big again when the complete '75 lineup reunited in 1997 and issued the LP 'The Dance', which ended up selling 5-million copies worldwide. They continue to play to huge audiences to this day, but haven't issued a new studio LP since 2003.
Artist information sources include: The book, 'Tapestry of Delights Revisited' by Vernon Joynson.
Songs from this album played on TWOS:
(Original 45 Label: Immediate IM 080, A - April, 1969)
(Original 45 Label: Reprise RS 27007, A - May, 1970)
(Originally Unreleased - , 1969)
(Original 45 Label: Reprise RS 27007, B - May, 1970)