DANNY KIRWEN – Fleetwood Mac Guitarist (13th May 1950 – 8th June 2018)

Posted: June 14, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Danny Kirwan, the former guitarist of Fleetwood Mac who was with the band for several albums in the late ’60s and early ’70s, has passed away at the age of 68.  Danny Kirwan played on Christine Perfect’s eponymous solo album in 1970 after she left Chicken Shack, but before she joined Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac later in the year, and subsequently married John McVie. Kirwan would contribute one song on the album “When You Say,”

He was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1968-1972. Mick Fleetwood suggested Kirwan join the band in ’68 but there was some dissent among the other members (Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and McVie) but the 18-year old won the day. He worked wonderfully with Green lending rhythm guitar support to some of Green’s greatest compositions. Kirwan advanced quickly playing a major gig in Hyde Park in August with Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After and Fairport Convention, and then began a 50-date tour of the U.K. with the band. There was an ensuing New Year’s Eve show with the Who, Small Faces, Pink Floyd and the Troggs, and finally, in December 1968, he joined the band in New York for a 30-date U.S tour, including appearances at the Fillmore’s East and West. In 1969, he played at the Chess studios in Chicago with some legendary Blues artists including Buddy Guy and Otis Spann. The subsequent double album “Blues Jam at Chess,” (later retitled “Fleetwood Mac in Chicago,”), featured two of Kirwan’s songs.

He got his chance to contribute about half of the “Then Play On,” album (1970) splitting lead vocals with Green, while writing seven of the fourteen tracks. After Green departed the band in later that year, Kirwan and slide master Jeremy Spencer shared guitar and vocal duties on the “Kiln House,” (1970). Kirwan also played on “Future Games,” (1971), and “Bare Trees,” (1972), his final album with Fleetwood Mac. The pressures of travel and life on the road finally caught up with him, and he began drinking excessively and displaying open hostility toward the band. He was eventually sacked by Fleetwood who had seen enough. Kirwan recorded three solo albums later in the 1970s, but none was successful, and by the end of the ’70s he left the music industry altogether, another casualty who couldn’t control his demons. Yet he was a brilliant guitar player who will be remembered for his outstanding work with Fleetwood Mac.

When Mick Fleetwood heard the news he commented: “Today was greeted by the sad news of the passing of Danny Kirwan in London, England,” the note reads. “Danny was a huge force in our early years. His love for the Blues led him to being asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1968, where he made his musical home for many years.”

Kirwan was still a teenager when he was asked to join Fleetwood Mac, and the guitarist stayed with the band until 1972. His work can be heard on the albums Then Play On, Blues Jam at Chess, Kiln House, Future Games and Bare Trees, along with a number of live an compilation releases. Kirwan was an influence on the group’s earlier blues days with co-founding guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer and contributed to their first UK #1 hit “Albatross.”

Danny was with the band from 1968 to 1972. Danny was still in the band for a while after Christine joined.  He wasn’t an original member of the band; Jeremy Spencer was Peter Green’s original guitaring partner, and he remained for a while after Danny joined, but Danny very clearly helped take the band into new terrains. His work in tandem with Green was brilliant, and produced some of the early band’s finest moments. After Green left in 1970, Danny remained.

After being fired from Fleetwood Mac for alcoholism in 1972, Kirwan released a number of unsuccessful solo albums, but sadly by the end of the decade his mental health was deteriorating. He endured long periods of homelessness in the 80s and 90s. Mick Fleetwood asked Missing Persons to find him in 1993.

Danny was a huge force in our early years,” Fleetwood has said on Facebook. “Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood  Mac, that has now endured for over 50 years. Thank you Danny Kirwan. You shall forever be missed.”

Fleetwood Mac’s , Danny Kirwan, who was once the perfect foil for the band’s founding guitarist Peter Green, has sadly passed away at the age of 68.

Solo albums

  • Second Chapter (DJM 1975)
  • Midnight in San Juan (DJM 1976)
  • Danny Kirwan (DJM 1977 – US release of Midnight in San Juan)
  • Hello There Big Boy! (DJM 1979)
  • Ram Jam City (Mooncrest 2000 – recorded in the mid-1970s as demo tracks for the Second Chapter album)

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