Fleetwood Mac

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Fleetwood Mac
Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The story of Fleetwood Mac is complicated to say the least, and one of rock’s most famous soap operas. The British Blues band that formed in the late Sixties transformed into one of the biggest and best selling acts a decade later.

Guitarist and songwriter Peter Green was born in Bethnal Green, London on 29 October 1946. His brother, Michael, taught him his first guitar chords and by the age of eleven Green was teaching himself. He began playing professionally by the age of fifteen. He first played bass guitar in a band called Bobby Dennis and the Dominoes.

Green became a major figure in the British blues movement and in 1966, he played lead guitar in Peter Bardens’ band “Peter B’s Looners”, where he met drummer Mick Fleetwood. Around this time Green had the opportunity to fill in for Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for three concerts and shortly after, when Clapton left the Bluesbreakers, Green became a full-time member of Mayall’s band.

John McVie (who originally trained as a tax inspector), was also a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers (from 1964 to 1967) and joined Fleetwood Mac in 1967. His surname, combined with that of Mick Fleetwood, was the inspiration for the band’s name.

Fleetwood Mac was founded by guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. Bassist John McVie completed the line-up for their self-titled debut album.

John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are the only two members of the group to appear on every Fleetwood Mac release, and for over forty years have been the group’s only remaining original members.

Born in Redruth, Cornwall, Mick Fleetwood lived in Egypt and Norway for much of his childhood years as his father travelled with the Royal Air Force.

In 1968 Fleetwood Mac scored a hit with Green’s “Black Magic Woman” (later covered by Santana), followed by the guitar instrumental “Albatross” (1969), which reached number one in the British singles charts.

“Sun King” from Abbey Road by The Beatles was based on Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross.” George Harrison said the recording was inspired by the song which they all admired.

Danny Kirwan joined as a third guitarist in 1968. Keyboardist Christine Perfect, who contributed as a session musician from the second album, married McVie and joined in 1970.

In 1970 Peter Green talked about his plans to give all his money away. The following year Green confronted his accountant with a gun after he sent him an unwanted royalty check. The guitarist went to jail briefly before being transferred to an asylum and was committed to a mental hospital in 1973.

By early 1971, Spencer grew more disillusioned with the group. During a US tour he left the hotel abruptly one afternoon and disappeared. He was found several days later to have joined the religious cult Children of God.

The early 1970s was a rocky time for the band, with a revolving door of musicians. Furthermore, a group impersonating Fleetwood Mac (which later became Stretch) was touring the United States with encouragement from the band’s manager, Clifford Davis. The tour collapsed, but it led to a protracted lawsuit between Davis and Fleetwood Mac.

In late 1974, while Mick Fleetwood was scouting studios in Los Angeles, he was introduced to folk-rock duo Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Fleetwood Mac asked Buckingham to be their new lead guitarist, and Buckingham agreed on condition that Nicks would also join the band.

Buckingham had been in a psychedelic rock band, Fritz, but two of its musicians were leaving for college. He asked Nicks in mid-1967 to replace the lead singer. Fritz later opened for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin from 1968 until 1970.

Stevie Nicks met her future musical and romantic partner, Lindsey Buckingham, during her senior year at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California.

Their 1975 self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac, reached number one in the United States and was the best-selling album of the year of its release and to date has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.

In 1976, McVie began an on-the-road affair with the band’s lighting director, which inspired her to write “You Make Loving Fun”, a top-10 hit from Rumours. In November 1977, Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood secretly began an affair. Fleetwood was still married to Jenny Boyd, (the younger sister of Pattie Boyd the first wife of George Harrison and subsequently wife of Eric Clapton). Mick Fleetwood later left Boyd for Nicks’s best friend, Sara Recor.

Warren Zevon’s 1978 hit “Werewolves Of London” features John McVie’s bass and Mick Fleetwood’s drumming.

Nicks had been romantically linked to Eagles drummer, vocalist Don Henley during the late 1970s, and briefly to Eagles songwriter J. D. Souther.

Rumours Fleetwood Mac’s second album after the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks, produced four US Top 10 singles and remained at number one on the American albums chart for 31 weeks.

One of the more peculiar details of Herbert Worthington’s iconic Rumours cover photo is the pair of wooden balls dangling from the crotch of Mick Fleetwood’s extremely tight pants. More than a spur-of-the-moment boyish prank, the balls – actually “lavatory chains” – date back to one of the earliest Mac gigs.

With great success came wild extravagance, as their concert rider called for 14 limos to be available at a moment’s notice and for every room Nicks stayed in to be painted pink and equipped with a white piano (which often had to be lifted in by crane).

“The Chain” (from Rumours) has the distinction of being the only song credited to all five members of the late Seventies line-up.

Nicks worked with clothing designer Margi Kent to develop a unique onstage look. Her costumes had a gypsy-bohemian style that featured flowing skirts, shawls, and platform boots.

The albums Tusk, Tango In The Night and Behind The Mask all reached number one on the US charts.

In 1981, while remaining a member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks began her solo career, releasing the studio album Bella Donna, which topped the Billboard 200.

Standing at 5 feet 1 inch (1.55 m), Stevie Nicks has stated she felt “a little ridiculous” standing next to Mick Fleetwood, who is 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m).

In June 1996, Peter Green was voted the third-best guitarist of all time in Mojo magazine.

In 1998 Christine McVie opted to leave the group and lived in semi-retirement for nearly 15 years.

In 1998, Ronald Anacelteo was arrested for stalking Stevie Nicks. After leaving his Denver psychiatric facility, he later told police he planned to kidnap and impregnate her, since he believed her witchcraft would cure his homosexuality.

Nicks became an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church and officiated at the wedding of Deer Tick singer John McCauley and singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton in 2013.

On 8 June 2018, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan died at the age of 68 in a hostel for homeless alcoholics in London, after contracting pneumonia earlier in the year.

Founding member Peter Green died on 25 July 2020 at the age of 73

Christine McVie died in hospital on 30 November 2022, at the age of 79 of a stroke and suffered from metastatic cancer of unknown primary origin.

Important Dates In The Life Of Fleetwood Mac:

On this day in music
30 Nov 2022
English musician and singer Christine McVie died of a stroke at the age of 79. She was the keyboardist and one of the vocalists and songwriters of Fleetwood Mac. McVie was a member of several bands, notably Chicken Shack, in the mid-1960s British Blues scene. She initially began working with Fleetwood Mac as a session player in 1968, before officially joining the band two years later. Eight songs she wrote or co-wrote, including 'Don't Stop', 'Everywhere' and 'Little Lies', appeared on Fleetwood Mac's 1988 Greatest Hits album.
12 Feb 2021
Rupert Neve died at 94 years old due to pneumonia and heart failure. Neve was a pioneering designer of professional audio recording equipment. Regarded as the father of modern studio recording, his equipment became industry standard and influenced the sound of countless musicians including Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Santana, The Who, Pink Floyd and many more. Nirvana even recorded their iconic album Nevermind on a mixing console at Sound City Studios designed by Neve.
6 Aug 2020
British music producer and sound engineer Martin Birch died age 71. He became renowned for engineering and producing albums recorded predominantly by British rock bands, including Deep Purple, Rainbow, Fleetwood Mac, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden.
26 Jul 2020
English blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Peter Green died in his sleep age 73. As the founder of Fleetwood Mac, his songs, such as 'Albatross', 'Black Magic Woman', 'Oh Well', 'The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)' and 'Man of the World' became world wide hits. Green left the band in 1970 as he struggled with his mental health. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in hospital in the mid-70s.
9 Mar 2020
American record producer Keith Olsen died age 74. He worked with many artists including Rick Springfield, Fleetwood Mac, Ozzy Osbourne, the Grateful Dead, Whitesnake, Pat Benatar, Heart, Santana, Foreigner, Scorpions, Magnum, Journey, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Joe Walsh and Eric Burdon & the Animals.
9 Apr 2016
Fleetwood Mac announced that Lindsey Buckingham had been fired from the band and would be replaced by Crowded House’s Neil Finn and Mike Campbell, former lead guitarist of (with Tom Petty) & The Heartbreakers on their upcoming tour. Describing Lindsey’s departure as bittersweet, Stevie Nicks stated: "Our relationship has always been volatile."
22 May 2014
Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie was honoured with a lifetime achievement at this year's Ivor Novello songwriting awards. McVie played with Fleetwood Mac for 28 years and wrote some of their most famous songs, including 'Don't Stop' and 'Little Lies'. Other winners at the ceremony in London included London Grammar, The Chemical Brothers and Nile Rodgers.
7 Jun 2012
Bob Welch, an early member of Fleetwood Mac who enjoyed a successful solo career with hits such as 'Ebony Eyes,' was found dead after an apparent suicide at home in Nashville. He was 66. Welch was part of Fleetwood Mac in their early years from 1971 to 1974 and worked on such albums as Future Games and Bare Trees.
3 Jan 2012
British musician Bob Weston died age 64. He had a brief role as guitarist and songwriter with Fleetwood Mac in the early 1970s. He also recorded and performed with a number of other musicians, including Graham Bond, Long John Baldry, Murray Head, Sandy Denny and Danny Kirwan.
6 Feb 2011
Irish guitarist and singer Gary Moore died aged 58 in his sleep of a heart attack in his hotel room while on holiday in Estepona, Spain. Moore had been a member of Skid Row, Thin Lizzy, and Colosseum II, before going solo, scoring the 1979 UK No.8 single 'Parisienne Walkways'. Moore's greatest influence in the early days was guitarist Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, who was a mentor to Moore when performing in Dublin. His 1990 album Still Got the Blues featured contributions from Albert King, Albert Collins, and George Harrison.
30 Nov 2007
During a Christies Rock & Roll auction held the Rockefeller Plaza, New York City a collection of 276 ticket stubs compiled by a rock journalist who covered many rock concerts at New York City venues sold for $2,000. The tickets included concerts by: Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen.
25 Aug 1999
Robert Fisher from New Romantic duo Naked Eyes and Climie Fisher died of cancer. With Climie Fisher scored the 1988 UK No.2 single 'Love Changes Everything' and wrote songs for Rod Stewart, Milli Vanilli, Fleetwood Mac and Jermaine Jackson. Fisher also worked as a producer, working with various acts including Eric Clapton.
9 Feb 1998
Winners at this year's Brit Awards included Finley Quaye who won Best British Male Solo Artist, Best British Female Solo Artist went to Shola Ama, The Verve won British Group and Best British Album for 'Urban Hymns', British Dance Act went to The Prodigy, British Breakthrough Act was Stereophonics, Best Selling British Album Act was The Spice Girls International Male, Jon Bon Jovi, International Female, Bjork, International Group, U2 and Outstanding Contribution went to Fleetwood Mac. During the show Chumbawamba singer Danbert Nobacon threw a plastic bucket full of cold water over UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
7 Sep 1997
Fleetwood Mac went to No.1 on the US album chart with 'The Dance'. The album went on sell over 5 million copies in the US alone and spawned three singles in the USA: 'Landslide', 'The Chain' and 'Silver Springs', and earned the band three Grammy nominations in 1998.
19 Jan 1993
Fleetwood Mac re-formed to perform at Bill Clinton's inauguration. The band's track from 'Don't Stop' from their album Rumours, was the official song of his 1992 presidential campaign.
12 Sep 1990
Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac announced they were leaving the band at the end of their current tour. At the time, some believed that Nicks’ and McVie’s departures were hastened by bad blood in the wake of Fleetwood’s memoir, Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac.
31 Aug 1987
Fleetwood Mac released 'Little Lies' from their fourteenth studio album Tango in the Night. Written by band member Christine McVie and her then-husband, Eddy Quintela, the single reached No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No.5 in the UK. It became the band's last top-ten hit in the US.
1 May 1984
Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy. It was reported that the drummer had spent thousands of dollars of cocaine a month, and had refused to listen to financial advisers, buying up several homes, a $400,000 spread in Hawaii and a $1.8 million farm outside Sydney, Australia.
3 Sep 1982
The three day US Festival in San Bernardino, California took place featuring, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, The Cars, Talking Heads, The Kinks, Ramones, B52's, The English Beat, Gang Of Four, Grateful Dead, Pat Benatar, Jackson Browne. Apple Computers founder Steven Wozniak bankrolled the festival.
7 Aug 1982
Fleetwood Mac started a five-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 'Mirage'. The bands third US No.1. album.
1 Sep 1980
Fleetwood Mac ended a nine-month world tour with a performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Lindsay Buckingham announced on stage, "This is our last show for a long time."
26 Apr 1980
Blondie were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Call Me', the group's fourth UK No.1, featured in the Richard Gere movie 'American Gigolo', the track was also a No.1 in the US where it became the band's biggest selling single. Producer Giorgio Moroder originally asked Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac to help compose and perform a song for the soundtrack, but she declined.
10 Nov 1979
Fleetwood Mac scored their second UK No.1 album with the double set 'Tusk', the 12th album by the British/American rock band.
12 Oct 1979
Fleetwood Mac released their twelfth album Tusk, an experimental set of songs that cost the band over $1 million to record. The double album peaked at No.4 in the US and achieved sales in excess of two million copies, spawning two Top Ten singles, 'Sara' and the title track. It reached No.1 in the UK and achieved Platinum status.
23 Feb 1978
Winners at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards included Fleetwood Mac, Album of the year for Rumours. The Eagles, Record of the year for Hotel California, Best pop vocal performance went to The Bee Gees for 'How Deep Is Your Love.' Crystal Gayle won Best Female Country Vocal Performance for 'Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue' and Song of the Year went to Barbra Streisand & Paul Williams (songwriters) for 'Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)'.
28 Jan 1978
The Fleetwood Mac album Rumours went to No.1 on the UK album chart. The groups eleventh studio album went on to sell over 45 million copies world-wide and spent over 440 weeks on the UK chart. The songs 'Go Your Own Way', 'Dreams', 'Don't Stop', and 'You Make Loving Fun' were released as singles.
18 Jun 1977
Fleetwood Mac went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Dreams', the group's first and only US No.1, was also a No.24 in the UK. Stevie Nicks has stated she wrote the song at the Record Plant studio in Sausalito, California, in about 10 minutes.
2 Apr 1977
Fleetwood Mac went to No.1 on the US album chart with Rumours. The album is Fleetwood Mac's most successful release; along with winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978, the record has sold over 45 million copies worldwide.
24 Mar 1977
Fleetwood Mac released 'Dreams' from their eleventh studio album Rumours which became their first and only US No.1 hit single. Stevie Nicks wrote the song in early 1976 at the Record Plant studio in Sausalito, California in around 10 minutes, on a day when she wasn't required in the main studio.
4 Feb 1977
Fleetwood Mac released Rumours. The songs 'Go Your Own Way', 'Don't Stop', 'Dreams', and 'You Make Loving Fun' were released as singles. Rumours is Fleetwood Mac's most successful release; along with winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978, the record has sold over 45 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.
26 Jan 1977
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green was committed to a mental hospital following an incident when he threatened his accountant Clifford Adams with an air rifle when he was trying to deliver a £30,000 ($51,000) royalty cheque to him.
4 Sep 1976
Fleetwood Mac went to No.1 on the US album chart with their self-titled album after being on the charts for over a year. The album went on to sell over 5 million copies in the US and was the first of three No.1 albums for the group.
26 Mar 1976
British blues singer and musician Duster Bennett was killed in a car crash. After performing with Memphis Slim Bennett was driving home in a Ford Transit van in Warwickshire, England when he apparently fell asleep at the wheel. The van collided with a truck. His first album Smiling Like I'm Happy saw him playing as a one-man band, playing a bass drum with his foot and blowing a harmonica on a rack while playing a 1952 Les Paul Goldtop guitar given to him in 1968 by Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac.
4 Feb 1976
Fleetwood Mac released the Stevie Nicks penned 'Rhiannon', from their eponymous album released in 1975. Nicks discovered the Rhiannon character through a novel called Triad by Mary Bartlet Leader. The novel is about a woman named Branwen who is possessed by another woman named Rhiannon.
11 Jul 1975
Fleetwood Mac released their tenth studio album often referred to as The White Album, the first Fleetwood Mac album to feature Lindsey Buckingham as guitarist and Stevie Nicks as vocalist. The album reached number 1 on the Billboard chart over a year after entering the chart, spent 37 weeks within the top 10, and more than fifteen months within the top 40. It was the second biggest album of 1976 (behind Frampton Comes Alive! by Peter Frampton).
16 Jun 1973
Suzi Quatro had her first UK No.1 single with the Nicky Chinn & Mike Chapman song 'Can The Can'. 10CC were at No.2 with 'Rubber Bullets' and Fleetwood Mac were at No.3 with 'Albatross.'
24 May 1970
Guitarist and founding member Peter Green played his last gig with Fleetwood Mac when they appeared at the Bath Festival, Somerset, England.
11 Apr 1970
Peter Green quit Fleetwood Mac while on tour in Germany, to avoid breach of contract he agreed to finish the current tour. While touring Europe in late March 1970, Green took LSD at a party at a commune in Munich, an incident cited by Fleetwood Mac manager Clifford Davis as the crucial point in his mental decline.
28 Feb 1970
In an interview with the New Musical Express, Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green talked about his plans to give all his money away. The following year Green confronted his accountant with a gun after he sent him an unwanted royalty check. The guitarist went to jail briefly before being transferred to an asylum and was committed to a mental hospital in 1973. He re- launched his career in the 90s.
28 Jun 1969
Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, The Nice, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Ten Years After, Taste, The Liverpool Scene and Chicken Shack all appeared at The Bath Festival of Blues in England, with DJ John Peel. Tickets cost 18/6. The festival proved very popular, selling out all 30,000 tickets in the first week, surprising both the townsfolk and the promoters. The only major problem occurred when the Nice's use of bagpipers caused the stage to collapse.
29 Jan 1969
Fleetwood Mac had their only UK No.1 single with the instrumental 'Albatross' which was composed by guitarist Peter Green. 'Albatross' is the only Fleetwood Mac composition with the distinction of having inspired a Beatles song, 'Sun King' from 1969's Abbey Road.
28 Dec 1968
The three day Miami Pop festival took place, the first major rock festival held on the East Coast of the US, with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Chuck Berry, The McCoys, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, The Turtles, The Box Tops, Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, Pacific Gas and Electric, Procol Harum, Canned Heat, Iron Butterfly and Grateful Dead.
19 Jul 1968
Pink Floyd played the second of three nights at the Boston Tea Party, Boston, Massachusetts. Opened in January 1967 as a psychedelic club, many many famous artists, including Grateful Dead, Neil Young, The J. Geils Band, Frank Zappa, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jeff Beck, The Who, Santana, Taj Mahal, Ten Years After and Sly & the Family Stone all appeared.
8 Jul 1968
Pink Floyd kicked off their first 20-date North American tour at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago. The club became a driving force in the music business, hosting famous rock acts such as The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Byrds, Janis Joplin, The Mothers of Invention, Grateful Dead, MC5, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Fleetwood Mac, Muddy Waters, Vanilla Fudge and Jefferson Airplane.
6 Jul 1968
Woburn Music Festival, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire took place. A two-day affair featuring Donovan, Fleetwood Mac, Pentangle, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Alexis Korner, Family, Taste, Tim Rose, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Duster Bennett and Tyrannosaurus Rex, two-day tickets were priced at £2.
26 May 1968
US blues artist Little Willie John died in prison after being convicted of manslaughter. Co-wrote and was the first to record a 'Fever' (covered by Peggy Lee in 1958), and 'Need Your Love So Bad' covered by Fleetwood Mac. James Brown recorded a tribute album 'Thinking Of Little Willie John... And A Few Other Nice Things'.
24 Feb 1968
Fleetwood Mac released their debut studio album (also known as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac), a mixture of blues covers and originals penned by guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer which peaked at No.4 on the UK chart and stayed on the charts 37 weeks. This is the only album by the band not to feature keyboardist, vocalist Christine McVie in any capacity.
13 Aug 1967
Fleetwood Mac made their live debut when they appeared at the National Jazz and Blues Festival in Windsor. Also on the bill Jeff Beck, Cream, Small Faces, The Move, The Pink Floyd, Donovan and Chicken Shack.
11 Aug 1967
Small Faces, The Move, Marmalade, Paul Jones, Pink Floyd, Amen Corner, Donovan, Zoot Money, Cream, Jeff Beck, John Mayall, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown all appeared at this years UK Reading festival. An advance 3 day ticket cost £2. Arthur Brown's trademark flaming helmet burnt out of control and organiser Harold Pendleton's father-in-law had to douse the flames with a pint of beer.
24 May 1963
US blues guitarist and singer Elmore James died of a heart attack aged 45. James wrote 'Shake Your Money Maker', which was covered by Fleetwood Mac in 1968. Known as "The King of the Slide Guitar", James influenced Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Keith Richards.
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