Fleetwood Mac Guitarist Danny Kirwan Dies at 68


Danny Kirwan, a key force in Fleetwood Mac’s bluesy three-guitar attack of the late ‘60s and as a singer and songwriter on the group’s transitional albums of the early ‘70s, died Friday. He was 68.

No details about his death were immediately available. The band’s founding drummer Mick Fleetwood acknowledged Kirwan’s passing in a statement for the group on his Facebook page Friday evening.

“Danny was a huge force in our early years,” Fleetwood wrote. “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.

“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…Thank you, Danny Kirwan. You will forever be missed!”

In a 2015 story for the New York Observer, writer and musician Tim Sommer called Kirwan — pictured above, center, with the group in 1970 — “one of the great lost figures in rock history (both literally and figuratively).”

In early 1968, at the age of 17, the South London-born Kirwan — who had showed formidable skill in the London trio Boilerhouse — joined the original Mac lineup of Fleetwood, guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer and bassist John McVie. In its earliest incarnation, the group was a leading light of the English blues scene.

His first recorded work reached the U.S. on the 1969 compilation album “English Rose,” which included the band’s chart-topping U.K. instrumental “Albatross” and its B side, Kirwan’s composition “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues.”

He held his own opposite Green and Spencer on the subsequent singles “Oh Well,” “Rattlesnake Shake” and “The Green Manalishi,” and his playing powered the classic 1969 set “Then Play On.” A frequently bootlegged live recording of the three-guitar lineup captured at the Boston Tea Party in early 1970 showed off Fleetwood Mac’s considerable concert firepower, also on display in a BBC performance of “Oh Well” from 1969.

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SOURCE: Variety, Chris Morris