Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac recorded live at The Marquee Club, 30 Wardour St., London
These recordings are previously unissued
These recordings were taped on the sound desk on the night of the concert and although they may lack the technology of full studio recordings they nevertheless capture the live excitement of a 'Peter Green Fleetwood Mac' gig.
In 1967, I had just finished my college career at St Mark and St John's College of education In Kings Road, Chelsea, London. I had been the bass player in our college band, 'Five's Company', which has been moderately successful within the London college circuit, recording three singles for Pye Records. The band folded as its component members left college to go their separate ways.
I was determined to prove to myself that I could become a fully professional musician. I'd always liked r'n'b and rock 'n' roll music, so I started to scan the Melody Maker small ads for something suitable. I soon spotted an advertisement. It simply read 'Bass player wanted for Chicago-type blues band' followed by a phone number, which I called. I got through and arranged to audition.
I turned up at a council flat in Putney. I was greeted by a guy who introduced himself as Peter Green. Although I hadn't seen the Bluesbreakers, I'd heard about Peter Green, the brilliant successor to Eric Clapton in the John Mayall band, so I said to him, "You've certainly got the right name for a blues guitarist - do you know about your namesake, who plays with John Mayall?" "You bloody idiot," he said, I am Peter Green!"
Mightily abashed, I nevertheless managed to fumble through the audition, at the end of which Peter announced that I was in Fleetwood Mac. I then asked him when and where the first gig was going to be, expecting to hear the name of a small blues club. "Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival, in a month's time," Peter replied.
This was terrifying news. The festival was one of the biggest in the country, which regularly attracted about a hundred thousand people. What a debut!
We started rehearsing in the Black Bull, a pub in Fulham Road opposite my old college; and in Peter's girlfriend Sandra Elsdon's beautiful house near Windsor. The rehearsals went well. We started putting an act together for our important debut performance at the festival, for the staggering fee of £40. The festival was later to move to a more permanent home and become known as the Reading (Rock) Festival.
We also started recording copiously. Three tracks on which I played were eventually released: 'Long Grey Mare', 'Ramblin' Pony' and 'I Believe My Time Ain't Long'. We certainly recorded a great deal of material. Most of it in the middle of the night at Decca's West Hampstead studio.
Mike Vernon, FM's future producer: "Yes, extremely late at night, in the big studio at Decca, again we shouldn't have been there, when nobody at Decca knew that we were doing it! And it was with those tapes that F.M. managed to clinch the Blue Horizon distribution deal with CBS."
The next logical step for Fleetwood Mac was to record the first album, but before that could happen we had the terrifying hurdle of playing the festival. The list of performers for the weekend was impressive. There we were, tucked away at the bottom of the bill - along with Pentangle and Denny Laine.
We stepped out in front of a huge audience, there to see Cream, Jeff Beck, John Mayall and the like. Stepping up to the microphone to announce the band and the first number, I got as far as saying, "We'd like to play..." and completely forgot the title of the song. We survived the ordeal and were extremely well received; and much enjoyed our late set in a kind of 'fringe festival' tent on the site, where we could play for an hour and really let our hair down.
The next gig after the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival was at London's well known Marquee Club.
We can thus transport you back twenty-five years to the vibrant, sweaty atmosphere of that famous Soho Club where so many well known bands started their career. Fleetwood Mac were a good deal happier to play in the intimate surroundings of the Marquee for their second gig and relax a little after the drama of their debut at Windsor. The band was heavily featuring Jeremy Spencer at the time, and his performance here is interesting as it predates his use of rock 'n' roll parody which would dominate his stage shows in later years. In 1967 he was hammering out his beloved Elmore James riffs and songs to the exclusion of all else, and some would argue that his early performances in the band were his finest.
'Fleetwood Mac: Live At The Marquee', also gives a fascinating glimpse into the quality and style of Peter Green's early work within the band. Ever modest and content sometimes to take a backseat role and push his protege Spencer to the front, his contribution to the performance is nevertheless impressive. Peter plays quite a lot of harmonica on these tracks, but when he lets rip (or lays back) with his beloved Les Paul, the atmosphere becomes quite electric. The delicacy of his singing is matched only by his power when he chooses to deliver it.
Raw and rough round the edges the performance might have been on that Summer day back in 1967, but one can clearly hear the potential of the band that would become one of the world's biggest and most successful acts. However, many fans and musicians I spoke to, spoke of their real affection and admiration for their early work, when they were arguably the U.K.'s very finest Blues/R 'n' B Band. Here is a unique and rare record of the band in its infancy, but already showing its class. Powered by the mighty Mick Fleetwood from behind, Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer were already leading the way, and Fleetwood Mac were well on the way to enduring success.
© Bob Brunning, 1992
Bob Brunning is the author of 'Behind the Mask - A Biography of Fleetwood Mac', published by New English Library. ISBN Number 0-450-55200-4
All photographs taken at the bands first live performance during the 1967 NJF Jazz and Blues Festival, Windsor.
(P) 1992 Recevier Records Ltd.
(C) 1992 Bob Brunning.
Manufactured under worldwide license by the Trojan group of companies.
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