Group splits have become the foot-and-mouth disease of pop. And this year the splits have become almost endemic with British bands.
The raging epidemic has destroyed many fine bands – Joe Cocker’s Grease Band, the Nice, Spooky Tooth and even, would you believe, the Beatles.
Fleetwood Mac are the latest victims. Peter Green left the band at the end of May, just as the Mac made the Top Twenty with “Green Manalishi,” one of Peter Green’s own songs.
But Fleetwood Mac lives. Instead of falling to bits, the band have taken two months out of their schedule to work out their future in the depths of Hampshire.
With the loss of P. Green the band will have to adjust to a new line-up. More pressures are now going to be placed on Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, who now take over as the band’s focal points.
In the past it has always been one-third Peter, one-third Danny and one-third Jerry. But now the band have got to cut out the Green contribution entirely. Thus the two months retreat.
At his Kensington flat, drummer Mick Fleetwood described the change in the band: “Peter left the band mainly because he wanted to be free – personally free that is – to be just Peter Green. Not Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac.
“Originally, of course, Fleetwood Mac was Peter’s band but now Danny and Jerry have emerged as individuals and Peter’s contribution is limited to one-third of the front line.
“So we’ll be carrying on as usual except we won’t be doing any of Peter’s numbers. But it’s only a break as far as the group is concerned – it’s not a break as far as the people are concerned. It’s a completely amicable split.
“It’s exciting really. The decision was made for us – we haven’t had to throw anyone out, or anything. So now we’ve been forced to face our futures by ourselves.”
Peter Green’s last contribution to the band has been their latest hit single, “Green Manalishi.”
The trail of hit singles for the Mac started, of course, with ‘Albatross’ early last year. Which makes the band different from most other ‘progressive’ – for lack of a better name – bands.
Said Mick: “We went into the studio and ‘Albatross’ came out. We thought it was a good idea to issue it as a single. And since then we’ve found singles are good for prestige value. As far as money for gigs is concerned it didn’t make any difference – our prices certainly didn’t soar.
“And ‘Albatross’ altered people’s opinions of the band. Before we were more or less a straight blues band, but now people have had to get used to us playing what we feel like – and not necessarily the blues.
“We’ve always played what we’ve wanted to. And it seems to have worked. Other bands have fallen into the trap of playing to a formula – which might be successful to start with, but might do the band harm when the formula ran out. We have no formula. We just roll on.
“So, I think singles are very important because it exposes the band to a wide audience. But first and foremost the band are a stage band.”
Which brings the Mac to the problem of how to create their stage atmosphere on record.
The usual way out is to produce a live album. It has worked for the Who and Delaney and Bonnie, and it looks as it is going to work for the Rolling Stones with Get Your Ya-Yas Out – their official live album of last year’s American tour.
Fleetwood Mac are also thinking along the same lines.
So all seems to be happy now that the big break has been made. Peter Green is busy giving free concerts and unloading all his money. And Fleetwood Mac carry on as a rock band.
The epidemic has been halted.
Rob Partridge / Record Mirror / June 6, 1970