Ignored Obscured Restored
I recently learned that Danny Kirwan, one time guitarist and songwriter for an early version of Fleetwood Mac, died last June. I was very surprised that I missed the announcement of that news until now.
Fleetwood Mac has been around since 1967 but many fans are only familiar with the band as it has been constituted since Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined in 1975 and released a string of major hit singles and albums including Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tusk.
But the history of the band is way more complicated than that, having gone through at least 3 or 4 other major phases before the Buckingham/Nicks formation. You can read a summary on Wikipedia, but he best way to get a comprehensive, thumbnail appreciation of the various personnel combinations of the band is through a copy of Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees.
But back to Kirwan… He joined the band after they released their second album, as their 18 year old, third guitarist. (Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer were the other two.) Kirwan had built a reputation as a guitarist for his ability to play a pure vibrato.
The first single Mac released with Kirwan on it was their signature “Albatross” (UK #1). Band leader, and guitar hero Green said of Kirwan’s contribution to the recording, “If it wasn’t for Danny, I would never had had a number one hit record.”
By 1970, Green had left the band, so Kirwan and Spencer soldiered on. The first release without him was the band’s fourth — Kiln House – that contains today’s SotW, ““Tell Me All the Things You Do.”
“Tell Me…”, a jaunty rocker, showcases Kirwan’s guitar playing and also features him on lead vocal.
Unfortunately, Kirwan’s later life became another sad story of a famous rock star that ended in years of destitution. In 1993, The Independent reported that he was found sleeping on a park bench and sometimes living in St Mungo’s – a homeless shelter in West London. He later found his was to a South London care home where he died in his sleep, aged 68, of pneumonia.
Enjoy… until next week.
Few guitarists have ever matched Danny Kirwan’s vocal and string bending vibrato techniques. A true virtuoso. Sadly, he never received the recognition he deserved, and today he’s only known to the purists who know the pre-bubblegum Fleetwood Mac.