"Save Me" taken from the album "Behind The Mask" Available on LP - Cassette - Compact Disc
FLEETWOOD MAC: Vocal and instrumental group. Original personnel, 1967, all born England: Peter Green; Jeremy Spencer, born West Hartlepool, July 4, 1948; John McVie; Mick Fleetwood, born June 24. Danny Kirwan, born England, added in 1968. Peter Green replaced in 1970 by Christine (Perfect) McVie, born England, July 12, 1944. Jeremy Spencer replaced in mid-1971 by Bob Welch, born California, July 31, 1946. Welch left in late 1974. Reorganized band in 1975 comprised John McVie, Christine McVie, Fleetwood plus Lindsey Buckingham, born Palo Alto, California, October 3, 1947; Stevie Nicks, born Phoenix, Arizona, May 26, 1948. Tour band, 1987-88, comprised John McVie, Christine McVie, Nicks, Fleetwood, Rick Vito, Billy Burnette.
There's no doubt that one of the major success stories of the mid 1970s belonged to Fleetwood Mac. The band won massive public support as indicated by runaway sales totals for such albums as Fleetwood Mac and Rumours (album of the Year in the 1977 Grammy Awards). At the same time, it steadily improved its musicianship, which earned it deserved respect as one of the best live-performance bands in rock in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Its achievement underlines the fact that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, though good musicians, never ranked among the best in their instrumental specialties. Nor was Christine McVie number one on keyboards, though she is an above average pianist and certainly one of the better female vocalists around. But their talents, combined with the excellent lead guitar work of Lindsey Buckingham and the superlative vocal contributions of Stevie Nicks, provided a distinctive sound that became increasingly exciting for millions of fans around the world from the mid-1970s on. It was, though, a middle-of-the-road sound, very different from the blues-rock format of the original Fleetwood Mac of the 1960s.
One of the strengths that John McVie and Fleetwood (whose last names formed the group's name since its inception in 1967) rendered was continuity and, in Fleetwood's case, a stabilizing influence. They managed to keep things together and moving forward despite major changes in personnel and musical direction from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. The early jolts resulted from the departure first of Peter Green and later Jeremy Spencer, the two acknowledged stars of the original British foursome. In fact, the original focal point was Green, who preferred the unusual step of naming the band after its rhythm section. The reason, Fleetwood told Samuel Graham, was that "Pete was very preoccupied with not becoming a superstar guitarist, which he easily could have been. He wanted to downplay his own role."
Three of the original four members of the group (John McVie, Green, and Fleetwood) gained invaluable experience as sidemen in the band of the kingpin of the British blues revival, John Mayall. Lead guitarist Green (who also played harmonica and handled vocals), joined Mayall's Bluesbreakers in 1965 as replacement for the great Eric Clapton when Eric left to join Cream. In 1967, Green (by then idolized by British rock fans) got together with Jeremy Spencer to form a new band. Spencer, one of the smallest performers in rock (under 5 feet tall), had been playing guitar since his youth and was one of the best bottleneck-style guitarists in England.
They recruited McVie from the Bluesbreakers to play bass and Fleetwood to play drums. Fleetwood was not only a highly skilled drummer, but a great asset for in-person performances. As John Mendelsohn described him in the Los Angeles Times in August 1970: "With abdomen-length stringy hair and comic-strip features that are perpetually frozen into a gape of unspeakable horror, this gangling chap is certainly one of modern rock and roll's truly unforgettable characters."
The foursome rapidly built up an ardent following in England and gained the charts with its debut LP, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, issued on Blue Horizon in the U.K. (1968) and Epic in the U.S. Featuring two lead guitarists in Green (whose style has been compared to American bluesman B.B. King's) and Spencer (who played blues-rock along the lines of Elmore James), the LP won high praise from English reviewers. (...to be continued.)
Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul by Irwin Stambler by kind permission of MacMillan (London) Ltd.
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