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'People don't know how Fleetwood Mac started'

As a tribute to the supergroup's founder Peter Green, who died last year, a concert and album gathered some of the biggest names in music

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Celebration: Fleetwood Mac singer Steve Nicks and drummer Mick Fleetwood

Celebration: Fleetwood Mac singer Steve Nicks and drummer Mick Fleetwood

Press Association Images

Mick Fleetwood & Friends Celebrate The Music of Peter Green And The Early Years Of Fleetwood Mac is available now

Mick Fleetwood & Friends Celebrate The Music of Peter Green And The Early Years Of Fleetwood Mac is available now

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Celebration: Fleetwood Mac singer Steve Nicks and drummer Mick Fleetwood

Picture it: Mick Fleetwood, Neil Finn, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Steven Tyler, Billy Gibbons, Bill Wyman and more jamming together on stage.

It's a list that sounds too good to be true, given it includes one name from arguably some of the world's greatest-ever bands: Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Who, ZZ Top and the list goes on.

The event in question though, titled Mick Fleetwood & Friends Celebrate The Music Of Peter Green and The Early Years of Fleetwood Mac, happened in February 2020, weeks before the coronavirus pandemic sent the world into a lockdown.

The concert saw an all-star cast play together at London's Palladium to honour Green - who did not attend - and the beginnings of Fleetwood Mac the band. It became all the more poignant given Green's death aged 73 in July 2020, months after the concert had been filmed.

But it was an idea Fleetwood (73) has had for many years, he explains from his home in Hawaii, where he now lives.

"I just thought that so many people really don't know how the band started… People say, well, Mick Fleetwood must have started the band, and of course, it's not true, Peter Green started this band, with me as a side. And then shortly after that John (McVie) and Jeremy (Spencer) and later a little later, Danny Kirwan joined. So I felt that it was just time," he says.

Green formed Fleetwood Mac with drummer Fleetwood in London in 1967, after a stint in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers as he filled in for Eric Clapton.

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He and Fleetwood wanted McVie to join the group on bass, and renamed the band Fleetwood Mac to entice him. Under his direction, the band produced three albums and a series of well-loved tracks including Black Magic Woman, Man Of The World and Oh Well.

Green's instrumental Albatross remains Fleetwood Mac's only UK number one single, hitting the top of the charts in January 1969. But he left the band after a final performance in 1970 as he struggled with mental health difficulties and spiralling drug use, later sleeping rough.

"I so wanted him to just have something," reflects Fleetwood on his motivation for the concert.

For the concert, which was streamed online and has been released as an album, another addition was Noel Gallagher, which Fleetwood reveals came about thanks to his niece, model Lily Donaldson.

Donaldson, who is friendly with Gallagher's wife Sara MacDonald, played the musical matchmaker during a phone call with Fleetwood.

"She said, 'Noel's here and he wants to be in the concert' and I'm trying to put it together. First of all I said, 'Well, it's brilliant', but I can't, it's sort of, certainly not what you would think would be his music that had any connection really with him. She said, 'No, no, you don't understand, they never played Fleetwood Mac music on stage, but Oasis, they used to in their soundcheck, he would often do original Fleetwood Mac songs to warm up the band'."

During the concert, footage shows Fleetwood reflecting on the early days and musing that the "60s was a good time to be a dreamer" as he recalls the "unspoken camaraderie in those days, which is so memorable".

Does that still exist in today's music industry?

"It is hard to imagine our world in England especially. I mean, when you think of what happened in England, with all genres of music and The Beatles, The Stones, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, and The Yardbirds and Eric Burdon and The Animals, all just really, really, really digging deep into blues and soul music, etcetera. The volume and the enormity of what that was, I actually don't think that it's happened since then."


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