For some great rock ‘n roll bands, change has been good
Outside of the Allman Brothers, I can’t think of any other band in rock ‘n’ roll that has gone through as many changes both in style and personnel over the years than Fleetwood Mac.
They formed in 1967 with Peter Green on guitar and vocals, Jeremy Spencer on guitar and vocals, John McVie on bass guitar and Mick Fleetwood on drums. They got together after Green, McVie and Fleetwood played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
The band signed with Blue Horizon and released “Fleetwood Mac” the following year, an enormous hit in the United Kingdom, spending more than a year in the Top 10 but virtually ignored in America.
In 1968, the band added guitarist Danny Kirwan and in 1969 they recorded and released “Fleetwood Mac in Chicago” with numerous bluesmen, including Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Otis Spann.
Fleetwood Mac also released “English Rose” and “Then Play On” during 1969, with both being excellent records as the band was moving away from its blues roots.
Green’s “Man of the World” and “Oh Well” were two of the most memorable songs from those LPs.
After announcing he was planning to give all of his earnings away and allegedly threatening a letter carrier trying to deliver a royalty check, Green suddenly left the band in early 1970.
Later that year, Fleetwood Mac released “Kiln House,” a Buddy Holly/Rockabilly tribute-style album dominated by Spencer’s guitar and singing. They also hired Christine Perfect, a vocalist and pianist who had sung with both Spencer Davis and Chicken Shack.
In 1971, while in the middle of a tour, Spencer inexplicably walked away from Fleetwood Mac.
It was assumed that he was kidnapped by the Children of God religious cult, but he later said that he joined on his own.
Bob Welch joined the band in 1971, but it was Perfect, McVie and Danny Kirwan who dominated the next album, “Future Games,” with songs such as “Show Me A Smile” and “Woman of a Thousand Years,” as the band moved further away from its blues roots toward a more pop/rock sound.
It was Bob Welch’s turn to exert his influence on the next three albums starting with “Bare Trees,” which contains the beautiful “Sentimental Lady” and Perfect’s “Spare Me A Little Of Your Love” among its great songs.
Kirwan left and was replaced by Bob Weston and Dave Walker for 1973 excellent “Penguin,” opening with three great songs: “Remember Me,” “Bright Fire” and “Dissatisfied.”
In October of 1973, Fleetwood Mac released “Mystery to Me” containing “Emerald Eyes,” “Hypnotized,” “Somebody,” “The Way I Feel” and the heartbreaking “Why” from Perfect.
To this day “Mystery to Me” is my favorite Fleetwood Mac album and, like all of its predecessors, it did not sell very well.
That was the Fleetwood Mac story until the band moved to Los Angeles in 1974, and then in early 1975 discovered Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks while it was auditioning for an engineer.
They were both added to the band and sometime in the first half of 1975, before the release of the platinum-selling LP “Fleetwood Mac,” the band performed what I think was its first ever live show in Grand Junction at the Mesa College Fieldhouse.
The rest, they say, is history.
None of this would have been possible without Fleetwood and McVie as they were the only constant members of Fleetwood Mac throughout its 30-plus-year history and will go down as one of the greatest rhythm sections in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.