Saturday Single No. 594

I woke to the sad news this morning that Danny Kirwan, one-time guitarist and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac, died in London, according to a statement from Mick Fleetwood and the band.

Kirwan, who was 68, was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1969 into 1972, an era when the band shifted its style from its blues-based origins to pop-rock, presaging the West Coast rock direction the band would take in the mid-1970s with the addition of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

By that time, Kirwan was gone, having been booted from the band in 1972 for alcoholism, according to Rolling Stone. He released four solo albums during the second half of the 1970s, but then his fortunes deteriorated, the magazine’s website says, quoting from a 1993 interview with the Independent in which Kirwan said, “I get by and I suppose I am homeless, but then I’ve never really had a home since our early days on tour. I couldn’t handle it all mentally and I had to get out. I can’t settle.”

In that interview, Kirwan then added, “I was lucky to have played for the band at all. I just started off following them around, but I could play the guitar a bit and Mick felt sorry for me and put me in. I did it for about four years, to about 1972, but . . . I couldn’t handle the lifestyle and the women and the traveling.”

Kirwan’s high point during his time with the group is almost certainly Bare Trees, the 1972 album for which he wrote five songs, including the title track. That track been seen here before, but it’s been a while, so in memory of Danny Kirwan, Fleetwood Mac’s “Bare Trees” is today’s Saturday Single.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 594”

  1. David Lenander says:

    I saw them in Minneapolis probably just weeks before they booted him out of the band. I thought the band was wonderful–and I liked the openers, Blue Oyster Cult, too. I mostly remember the long and extended versions of 2 non-Kirwan songs, “Future Games” and Christine’s “Homeward Bound.” But then and afterwards it’s always been Kirwan’s songs, I like the “Sunny Side of Heaven” and others, that actually haunted me most. Despite the adulation for Peter Green, it was the dueting with Kirwan that was a lot of his best stuff, and Kirwan carried on with similar but different brilliant duets with Bob Welch on both of those last Fleetwood albums. I did like the later Buckingham-Nicks version of the band, but actually nothing ever quite moved me like Kirwan’s work and playing with the band.

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