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Fleetwood Mac

Category: Musician or composer

 

Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band formed in July 1967, in London. The band have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. In 1998, selected members of Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

The two most successful periods for the band were during the late 1960s British blues boom, when they were led by guitarist Peter Green and from 1975 to 1987, as a more pop-oriented act, featuring Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

The band achieved more modest success between 1971 and 1974, when the line-up included Bob Welch, during the 1990s in between the departure and return of Nicks and Buckingham, and during the 2000s between the departure and return of Christine McVie. 

Main Band members

Mick Fleetwood

Michael John Kells "Mick" Fleetwood (born 24 June 1947) -  the drummer and co-founder of the group. Fleetwood’s surname was merged with that of John McVie to form the name of the band.

Born in Redruth [UK], Fleetwood lived in Egypt and Norway for many of his childhood years as his father travelled with the Royal Air Force. Fleetwood travelled to London at the age of fifteen, and joined with Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Bob Brunning, at Green's behest, to become the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood would remain the only member to stay with the band through its ever-changing line-up

Peter Green (born Peter Allen Greenbaum; 29 October 1946)  - the founder of the band Fleetwood Mac.

 

Green's songs such as "Albatross", "Black Magic Woman", "Oh Well" and "Man of the World" have been recorded by numerous artists.

Green's playing is noted for “its idiomatic string bending and vibrato and economy of style”.  Green was born in Bethnal Green, London, UK.
Fleetwood Mac were an extremely popular band in Europe in the late 60s and early 70s. However, Peter was not in good health. Naturally talented, Peter had no need of drugs, but he had been persuaded to take LSD in Munich, and this led to the onset of schizophrenia.  Green's last hit with Fleetwood Mac was The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown). This recording was released as Green's mental stability deteriorated.  One rather endearing end-result was that he wanted to give all of the band's money to charity, needless to say other members of the band did not agree, and subsequently Green decided to leave the band. His last show with Fleetwood Mac was on 20 May 1970. During that show, the band went past their allotted time and the power was shut off, although Mick Fleetwood kept drumming.

In 2014

Jeremy Cedric Spencer (born 4 July 1948) is best known as one of the guitarists in the original line-up of Fleetwood Mac.   A member since Fleetwood Mac's inception in July 1967, he remained with the band until February 1971, when he joined a religious group called the "Children of God", now known as "The Family International", of which he is still a follower. After a pair of solo albums in the 1970s, he continued to tour as a musician, but did not release another album until 2006. Releasing further solo albums in 2012 and 2014, Spencer has also recorded as part of the folk trio Steetley.  Spencer was born in Hartlepool, County Durham, UK.

Daniel David "Danny" Kirwan (born 13 May 1950) was a guitarist, singer and songwriter with the band between 1968 and 1972.  Kirwan was born in Brixton, South London, UK.  Kirwan's first recorded work with the band was his contribution to Green's huge instrumental hit single "Albatross". Green later stated that, "I would never have done "Albatross" if it wasn't for Danny.  "Dragonfly" is a song written by Danny with lyrics taken from a poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies. It was originally recorded in 1970, and became the first UK single released by the band after the departure of Peter Green. 

Danny Kirwan 16 October 1993, London

Danny is something of a victim of the surfeit of talent in Fleetwood Mac as many of his songs have been lost even though, they show great ability.   The UK release of Then Play On featured the sad blues "Without You", and the heavy "One Sunny Day". The US-only release English Rose included the tense blues "Something Inside of Me".  The Kiln House album, includes "Station Man" (co-written with Spencer and John McVie) which became a live staple for some years. His other songs were "Jewel-Eyed Judy", the energetic "Tell Me All the Things You Do", and "Earl Gray", an atmospheric instrumental which Kirwan largely composed while Peter Green was still in the band.  He suffered problems with alcoholism; stories abound of Kirwan not eating for several days at a time, subsisting largely on beer. He gradually became estranged from the other band members, and things came to a head during the autumn of 1972 when he was asked to leave.

Robert "Bob" Brunning (29 June 1943 – 18 October 2011) -  born in Bournemouth in the UK, was, as a small part of a long musical career, the original bass guitar player with the band.  When Peter Green left the Bluesbreakers in 1967, he decided to form his own group, naming it Fleetwood Mac after the rhythm section he wanted for the band – Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Fleetwood joined up straight away, and slide guitar player Jeremy Spencer was recruited, but McVie preferred to stay with the Bluesbreakers, where he was earning a regular wage. In the meantime, Green hired Brunning on a temporary basis, hoping that McVie would change his mind. During this period, Brunning played with Fleetwood Mac at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival. 

John McVie

After a few weeks McVie did change his mind. So McVie joined, and Brunning stood down. Brunning did contribute bass guitar to one track on Fleetwood Mac's debut album Fleetwood Mac, that song being "Long Grey Mare".   Bob Brunning died on 18 October 2011, at the age of 68.

John Graham "Mac" McVie (born 26 November 1945) - a bass guitarist best known as a member of rock groups John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac.  In 1968, he married blues pianist and singer Christine Perfect, who became a member of Fleetwood Mac two years later. John and Christine McVie divorced, however, in 1977. Around this time the band recorded the album Rumours, a major artistic and commercial success that borrowed its title from the turmoils in McVie's and other band members' marriages and relationships.  John Graham McVie was born in Ealing, west London, UK.  On 27 October 2013, the band announced that John McVie had been diagnosed with cancer.

Christine Anne Perfect (born 12 July 1943), professionally known as Christine McVie after her marriage to John McVie of Fleetwood Mac, is an English singer, keyboardist and songwriter. She is one of the lead vocalists of the band and joined the band in 1970, while married to bassist John McVie.  McVie is noted for her smoky, low alto vocal performances and “her direct but poignant lyrics about the joys and pitfalls of love”.  Eight of her songs appeared on Fleetwood Mac's 1988 Greatest Hits album, including "Don't Stop", "Little Lies", "Hold Me", "Everywhere", "As Long as You Follow", "Over My Head", "Say You Love Me" and "You Make Loving Fun".  McVie was born in the small Lake District village of Bouth, England (then in Lancashire, now Cumbria) and grew up in the Bearwood area of Smethwick near Birmingham, where her father, Cyril P.A. Perfect, was a concert violinist and music lecturer at St Peter's College of Education, Saltley, Birmingham.   McVie's mother Beatrice E.M. (called Tee) née Reece is a medium, psychic, and faith healer.

Lindsey Adams Buckingham (born October 3, 1949) is the lead guitarist and one of the vocalists of the band.  He was with them from 1975 to 1987, and then 1997 to the present day. Buckingham was born in Palo Alto, California, USA.  He never took guitar lessons and does not read music.  From 1966-1971, Buckingham performed psychedelic and folk rock with the band Fritz in the San Francisco Bay as a bassist and vocalist. Shortly after joining Fritz, Buckingham invited friend Stevie Nicks to join Fritz as a second vocalist. Their romantic relationship began after both left Fritz five years later.

 

While investigating Sound City recording studio in California, Mick Fleetwood heard the song "Frozen Love" from an album the pair had made.  By chance, Buckingham and Nicks were also in Sound City recording demos, and Buckingham and Fleetwood were introduced. When Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac in December 1974, Fleetwood immediately contacted Buckingham and offered him the vacant guitar slot in his band. Buckingham told Fleetwood that he and Nicks were a team and that he didn't want to work without her. Fleetwood agreed to hire both of them.

Stephanie Lynn "Stevie" Nicks (born May 26, 1948) is a singer and songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and an extensive solo career.  As we have seen above, Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 along with her romantic partner Lindsey Buckingham.   She was born in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

 

Of all the band members Stevie’s life has been the most ‘eventful’, she has battled drug addiction, had several extremely traumatic affairs and has had 4 abortions.  Nicks first met her future musical and romantic partner, Lindsey Buckingham, during her senior year at Menlo-Atherton High School.  Stevie has an unfortunate history of drug use, mostly cocaine.   After Fritz disbanded in 1972, Nicks and Buckingham continued to write as a duo, but their albums were not a commercial success, and to support herself and Buckingham, Nicks worked a variety of jobs, which included waiting tables. Nicks says that she first used cocaine during this time.  "We were told that it was recreational and that it was not dangerous." In 1986, a plastic surgeon warned her of severe health problems if she did not stop using cocaine.  She asked 'What do you think about my nose?' and he replied 'Well, I think the next time you do a hit of cocaine, you could drop dead." Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Center to overcome her cocaine addiction.  Later that year, on the advice of friends concerned that she might relapse, she visited a psychiatrist who prescribed the sedative Klonopin to help her remain free from cocaine, she became severely addicted to this drug. "Klonopin was worse than the cocaine," she has said. "I lost those 8 years of my life. I didn't write, and I gained so much weight."

 

She has also had a number of dramatic affairs after she split with Buckingham, some of which – 4 in total - resulted in abortions.  In November 1977, Nicks and Fleetwood, who was married to Jenny Boyd and had two children, [sister-in-law of George Harrison who was married to Patty Boyd], secretly began an affair.  The pair eventually decided to end the affair. She has had affairs with the English record producer Rupert Hine; Eagles drummer/vocalist Don Henley during the late '70s [He was the father of one of the babies she aborted – Sara] ; the Eagles songwriter J. D. Souther; Jimmy Iovine who produced Bella Donna during 1980–81; and with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh during 1983–86, who she listed in 2007 as her greatest love, though the couple could not sustain the relationship because of mutual drug abuse. 

As such we can see where the inspiration for all Stevie’s songs comes from even though the inspiration for the other band members is a bit more complex.

Work

Not a complete list, this covers the majority from their periods of most inspiration:

  • Fleetwood Mac  - their first album was a no-frills blues album and was released on the Blue Horizon label in February 1968.  The band soon released two singles "Black Magic Woman" (later a big hit for Santana) and "Need Your Love So Bad".
  • Mr. Wonderful - was released in August 1968. Like the first it was an all-blues album, and featured Christine Perfect who was then with Chicken Shack prior to her marriage to John McVie.
  • Albatross  - “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 released their first number one single in Europe, "Albatross".
  • English Rose – a US album, which contained half of Mr. Wonderful, and new songs from Kirwan
  • The Pious Bird of Good Omen - a collection of singles, B-sides, and a selection of some work the band did with Eddie Boyd.
  • Man of the World - a British and European hit single. For the B-side Spencer fronted Fleetwood Mac as "Earl Vince and the Valiants" and recorded "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite".
  • Then Play On - Although the initial pressing of the American release of this album was the same as the British version, it was altered to contain the song "Oh Well".  Then Play On, which was the band's first rock album, featured only the songs of Kirwan and Green.
  • The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown) - a single
  • Kiln House – released in September 1970. Kirwan's songs moved the band in the direction of rock. Spencer's contributions focused on re-creating the country-tinged "Sun Sound" of the late 1950s. Christine Perfect contributed to Kiln House, singing backup vocals, and drawing the album cover.
  • Dragonfly [The Purple Dancer] – a single released in the U.K. and certain European countries.
  • Future Games – released in September 1971.  Due to Welch's arrival and Spencer's departure, the album was different from anything the band had done up to that point.
  • Bare Trees – released in 1972, six months after the release of Future Games.  Though mostly composed by Kirwan, Bare Trees featured Welch's "Sentimental Lady" and "Spare Me a Little of Your Love", a bright Christine McVie tune that became a staple of the band's live act throughout the early to mid-1970s.
  • Penguin - The next two and a half years proved to be the most challenging for the band. In the three albums they released in this period, they constantly changed line-ups. Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Bob Welch, Bob Weston, and Dave Walker recorded Penguin, which was released in January 1973.
  • Mystery to Me – was recorded by Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Bob Welch and Bob Weston six months after Penguin.  This album contained Welch's song "Hypnotized" which got a lot of airplay on the radio and became one of the band's most successful songs in the US.
 

After this things went a bit pear shaped.  The McVies' marriage at this time was under a lot of stress, which was aggravated by their constant working with each other, and John McVie's considerable alcohol abuse. During the tour, Weston had an affair with Fleetwood's wife, Jenny Boyd Fleetwood, the sister of Pattie Boyd Harrison. Fleetwood fired Weston.  In September 1974, the remaining four released an album Heroes Are Hard to Find. Welch left in December 1974 tired of the touring and legal struggles. After Welch announced that he was leaving the band, Fleetwood began searching for a possible replacement.  Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band on New Year's Eve 1974 (within 4 weeks of the previous incarnation splitting).

  • Fleetwood Mac – released 1975. The album became a huge hit, reaching No.1 in the US and selling over 5 million copies. Among the hit singles from this album were Christine McVie's "Over My Head" and "Say You Love Me", and Stevie Nicks' "Rhiannon" and "Landslide".
  • Rumours – released 1977.  During the making of this album came the success of the band; the end of John and Christine McVie's marriage, as well as Buckingham and Nicks' long term romantic relationship. Even Fleetwood was in the midst of divorce proceedings from his wife, Jenny. The pressure put on Fleetwood Mac to release a successful follow-up album, combined with their new-found wealth, led to creative and personal tensions, fuelled by high consumption of drugs and alcohol.

In Rumours, the band members laid bare the emotional turmoil experienced at that time. Critically acclaimed, it was the recipient of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for 1977. The album generated multiple Top Ten singles, including Buckingham's "Go Your Own Way", Nicks' U.S. No.1 "Dreams",  Christine McVie's "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun". Buckingham's "Second Hand News", Nicks' "Gold Dust Woman" and "The Chain" (the only song written by all five bandmates) also received significant radio airplay. By 2003, Rumours had sold over 19 million copies in the U.S. alone and a total of 40 million copies worldwide, making it the second biggest selling album of all time. Fleetwood Mac supported the album with a lucrative tour.

 

Rumours, produced four U.S. Top 10 singles and remained at No. 1 on the American albums chart for 31 weeks, as well as reaching the top spot in various countries around the world. It is the eighth-highest-selling album of all time.  During the making of Rumours Buckingham and Nicks split and a number of the songs are about the grief this caused.  If Rumours is famous it is because it documents what every person throughout the world feels when love affairs fail or are doomed by circumstances.  It speaks to everyone.

  • Tusk - Buckingham was able to convince Fleetwood to allow his work on their next album to be more experimental and to work on tracks at home, then bring them to the band in the studio. The result of this was the quirky 20-track double album, Tusk, released in 1979. It spawned three hit singles; Lindsey Buckingham's "Tusk" (U.S. No. 8), which featured the USC Trojan Marching Band; Christine McVie's "Think About Me" (U.S. No. 20); and Stevie Nicks' 6½ minute opus "Sara" (U.S. No. 7).
  • Fleetwood Mac Live -  released at the end of 1980.  The tracks were recorded on an 18-month tour to support and promote Tusk. They travelled across the world, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
  • Mirage – released in 1982.  Recorded at Château d'Hérouville in France and produced by Richard Dashut, Mirage was an attempt to recapture the huge success of Rumours. Its hits included Christine McVie's "Hold Me" and "Love In Store" (each song being co-written by Robbie Patton and Jim Recor, respectively), Stevie Nicks' "Gypsy", and Lindsey Buckingham's "Oh Diane".
 

Mirage was the last album for some time as the band members pursued solo careers and tried to sort out their lives. 

Mick Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy, Nicks was admitted to the Betty Ford Clinic for addiction problems, and John McVie suffered an addiction-related seizure—“all attributed to the lifestyle of excess afforded to them by their worldwide success”.

  • Tango in the Night – was recorded in 1987. It was not so much a come-back album as an evolutionary development, as it started off as a Buckingham solo album before becoming a group project. The album went on to become their best-selling release since Rumours, especially in the UK where it hit No. 1 three times over the following year. The album sold three million copies in the USA and contained four hits: Christine McVie's "Little Lies" and "Everywhere" (the former being co-written with McVie's new husband Eddy Quintela), Sandy Stewart and Stevie Nicks' "Seven Wonders", and Lindsey Buckingham's "Big Love".

Buckingham left the group in 1987 in a none too amicable departure.  Although a ten-week tour had been scheduled, Buckingham backed out at the last minute. Although Buckingham was replaced  by two new guitarists - Billy Burnette and Rick Vito – and subsequent tours proved successful, this was not a time of great creativity.

  • Greatest Hits – was released in 1988. It featured singles from the 1975–88 era, and included two new compositions: "No Questions Asked" written by Nicks, and "As Long as You Follow" written by McVie and Quintela.  The Greatest Hits album has since sold over 8 million copies and was dedicated to Buckingham by the band, with whom they had now reconciled.
  • Behind the Mask - achieved Gold album status in the US, and entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 1. The subsequent "Behind the Mask" tour saw the band play sold out shows at London's Wembley Stadium, and on the final show in Los Angeles, the band were joined onstage by Buckingham. The two women of the band, McVie and Nicks, had decided that the tour would be their last (McVie's father died during the tour) though both stated that they would still record with the band. In 1991, both Nicks and Rick Vito announced they were leaving Fleetwood Mac altogether.
  • 25 Years – The Chain - released in 1992 by Fleetwood himself included "Silver Springs", a Stevie Nicks composition that was recorded during the Rumours sessions but omitted from the album and used as the B-side of "Go Your Own Way" instead. It also included a brand new Stevie Nicks/Rick Vito composition, "Paper Doll", which was released in the US as a single. There were also two new Christine McVie compositions, "Heart of Stone" and "Love Shines", the latter of which was released as a single in the UK and certain other territories. Lindsey Buckingham also contributed a new song, "Make Me a Mask".
1990

Some months after this, the Buckingham/Nicks/McVie/McVie/Fleetwood line-up reunited at the request of U.S. President Bill Clinton for his first Inaugural Ball in 1993. Clinton had made Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" his campaign theme song.  The band broke up in 1995, but reformed with the Rumours line-up in 1997.

  • The Dance - The regrouped Mac performed a live concert recorded on a Warner Bros. Burbank, California soundstage on 22 May, and from this performance came the 1997 live album The Dance, bringing Fleetwood Mac back to the top of the US album charts for the first time in 15 years. The album was certified a 5 million seller by the RIAA.
  • Say You Will - In 1998, Christine McVie left the band permanently to retire from touring. Her departure left Buckingham and Nicks to sing all the lead vocals for the band's 2003 album, Say You Will, although Christine did contribute some backing vocals and keyboards. The album debuted at No.3 on the Billboard 200 chart (No. 6 in the UK) and yielded chart hits with "Peacekeeper"

Fleetwood Mac are still performing and still writing new songs.   The band's 2013 tour, for example, covered 34 cities and included two new songs - "Sad Angel" and "Without You", which Buckingham described as some of the most 'Fleetwood Mac-y' sounding songs since Mirage.

Observations

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