Sunday, October 20, 2013

California dreaming?

Among my all time favorite groups, Fleetwood Mac has been perhaps the longest lived and most interesting. Interesting because they have been not one but many different groups under that name. The original blues based group of Albatross, Oh Well, and Heart Beat Like A Hammer gradually folded into a jazzier pop group which included the late great Bob Welch. I remember hearing one of Bob's Mac tracks on FM radio back around 1973-74, Hypnotized, and that particular cut still brings back memories. The band almost broke up after the album with that track I found out later. There was even a phony Fleetwood Mac put out on the road for awhile to complete a tour and their British manager claimed he owned the name (made up of drums and bass rhythm section Mick Fleetwood and John McVie's names by founder Peter Green). The reason the band continued at all was due mainly to the fight in lead guitarist and singer-songwriter Bob Welch...

 Fleetwood Mac with Bob Welch, second from right (next to Danny Kirwan) circa 1971-72.

Bob encouraged the other three to relocate to California where their label Reprise Records was located from which the band would have more favorable conditions with which to legally keep their name. It was a tough time but they made it through, but only for an exhausted Bob to want to leave to launch a more hard-rocking group (and later solo success with Sentimental Lady and Ebony Eyes). Fleetwood Mac meanwhile went on with new California members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (ex-Fritz) to conquer the world with Rhiannon, World Turning, and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow among many others. Eventually the group would be inducted into Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, including founder guitar hero Peter Green...

... yet not Bob Welch? This is a major omission to say the least, even disregarding it being the wish held up to his death of someone who contributed so much to the group. Perhaps the case for Bob's inclusion is best made in this 1998 article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper...

Many have signed petitions and written to the Hall directly. The forces against induction can be guessed at but may include fellow member and one time friend of Bob's Christine McVie (seen in all three lineups represented above). As a fan of both artists I can only hope to live to see this wrong righted, it has been allowed to continue far too long already. Mick Fleetwood credits Bob with the group's continued existence into the latter half of the 1970s, but the music of that too easily overlooked period alone demands Bob Welch be honoured as a vital member of Fleetwood Mac.

Bob's albums with Fleetwood Mac (all released by Reprise):
Future Games (1971)
Bare Trees (1972)
Penguin (1973)
Mystery To Me (1973)
Heroes Are Hard To Find (1974)