Our Complete List Of Fleetwood Mac Band Members looks at the three very distinct periods in which the band was fueled by a set of different musicians, with the only constants being Mick Fleetwood and, for the most part, John McVie and the very long run of the late Christine McVie.
Mick Fleetwood – 1967 to present
Mick Fleetwood has been the one and only constant member of the band Fleetwood Mac since the band’s start in 1967 to its current status in 2024. The formation of Fleetwood Mac in the late 1960s, alongside Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, and John McVie, marked the beginning of Fleetwood’s journey to stardom. The band’s name, a combination of Fleetwood’s and McVie’s surnames, would become synonymous with a distinctive sound that evolved through various line-up changes and musical explorations. Fleetwood’s role in the band extended beyond his drumming prowess; he was the glue that held the band together through its tumultuous moments, especially evident in the period leading up to and following the release of the iconic album “Rumours.”
Fleetwood’s leadership and determination were instrumental in navigating the band through personal upheavals, lineup changes, and the pressures of fame. His decision to invite Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join Fleetwood Mac marked a pivotal moment, leading to a period of unprecedented commercial success highlighted by the release of “Rumours.” This album, a masterpiece born out of personal strife and creative tensions within the band, showcased Fleetwood’s innovative drumming and his ability to maintain cohesion among the band’s dynamic personalities.
Despite the challenges, including his own battles with substance abuse and personal turmoil, Fleetwood’s commitment to the band never wavered. His contributions to Fleetwood Mac’s sound, particularly his distinctive drumming style, were integral to the band’s unique identity. Fleetwood was not just a drummer; he was a visionary who saw the potential in blending different musical styles and personalities to create something transcendent.
Fleetwood’s solo endeavors and collaborations outside Fleetwood Mac further illustrate his versatility and willingness to explore new musical territories. His work on albums like “The Visitor” and projects like Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo and the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band highlight his range and deep respect for music’s diverse forms.
Beyond his musical achievements, Fleetwood’s forays into writing, acting, and business ventures reveal a man of many talents and interests. His autobiography, “Fleetwood—My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac,” offers a candid look at his journey, marked by incredible highs and undeniable lows. His acting roles, albeit minor, and his stint co-hosting the 1989 BRIT Awards, add layers to the portrait of a man who has never been afraid to take risks.
In his personal life, Fleetwood’s relationships, marriages, and family have been intertwined with his musical career, often reflecting the tumultuous nature of the rock and roll lifestyle. Yet, through it all, his passion for music and his dedication to Fleetwood Mac have remained constant.
Fleetwood’s drumming technique, characterized by its simplicity, effectiveness, and the absence of traditional solos, underscores his musical philosophy. His approach to drumming, focusing on serving the song and the collective sound of the band, has been a cornerstone of Fleetwood Mac’s enduring appeal.
As Fleetwood Mac’s only constant member throughout its history, Mick Fleetwood’s legacy is inseparable from the band’s. His towering presence, both physically and musically, has left an indelible mark on the world of rock music. Through the ups and downs, Fleetwood’s unwavering spirit and commitment to his craft have ensured that Fleetwood Mac’s music continues to inspire and resonate with audiences around the world.
Peter Green – 1967–1970
During his time with Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green was instrumental in the creation of several albums that not only defined the band’s early sound but also left a lasting imprint on the blues and rock genres. These albums, produced within a span of just two years, showcase the breadth of Green’s talent and the band’s versatility.
The eponymous “Fleetwood Mac” album, released in 1968, marked the band’s debut and introduced the world to their unique blend of British blues. This album, with its raw energy and innovative guitar work by Green, set the stage for Fleetwood Mac’s rise in the music scene. The tracks within, driven by Green’s emotive playing and soulful vocals, established the band as a formidable force in the blues revival movement of the late 1960s.
Later the same year, “Mr. Wonderful,” the band’s second studio album, followed. This album continued in the vein of pure blues and was distinguished by its live studio recording approach, giving it an authentic, unfiltered sound that captured the essence of the band’s live performances. Green’s deep understanding of the blues tradition and his ability to infuse it with a fresh, dynamic energy were evident throughout the album’s tracks.
1969’s “Then Play On” marked a departure from the band’s strictly blues-based roots, exploring more diverse sounds and incorporating elements of rock. This album, often regarded as one of Green’s masterpieces, showcased his versatility as a musician and a songwriter. “Then Play On” featured some of Green’s most celebrated compositions, including the haunting “Oh Well” and the ethereal “Man of the World.” The album’s innovative approach to songwriting and arrangement highlighted Green’s growing ambition and experimental nature.
“Fleetwood Mac in Chicago,” also released in 1969, was a collaborative effort recorded with a host of legendary Chicago blues musicians. This album served as a bridge between the British blues movement and the American blues tradition, with Green and the band paying homage to their roots while also showcasing their own unique style. The sessions produced a raw, authentic blues sound that underscored Green’s reverence for the genre’s origins and his ability to seamlessly blend with some of the blues’ most influential figures.
Jeremy Spencer – 1967-1971
Jeremy Cedric Spencer, born on July 4, 1948, was in the original lineup of Fleetwood Mac, where his talents on slide guitar and piano significantly shaped the band’s sound. A pivotal member from Fleetwood Mac’s formation in July 1967, Spencer’s journey with the band was marked by his unique musical contributions until his sudden departure in February 1971 to join the “Children of God,” a religious movement now known as “The Family International.” Despite leaving the mainstream music scene, Spencer’s legacy endured, leading to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a part of Fleetwood Mac.
During his tenure with the band, Spencer was involved in the creation of several influential albums. The debut album “Fleetwood Mac” (Blue Horizon 1968) showcased the band’s blues roots, with Spencer’s slide guitar playing a key role in defining its sound. The same year, “Mr. Wonderful” continued to explore the blues genre, further establishing Fleetwood Mac’s place in the British blues movement. Spencer’s ability to convey emotion through his slide guitar was particularly evident on this album.
In 1969, the band released “Then Play On” (Reprise 1969), an album that saw Fleetwood Mac branching into more experimental and diverse musical territories. Spencer’s contributions helped to bridge the band’s blues past with its evolving rock orientation. That same year, “Fleetwood Mac in Chicago/Blues Jam in Chicago Vols 1 & 2” (Blue Horizon 1969) was recorded, a testament to the band’s deep respect for and connection to traditional American blues music. This project allowed Spencer to collaborate with established blues artists, further enriching his musical palette.
The release of “Kiln House” (Reprise 1970) marked Spencer’s final album with Fleetwood Mac. The album’s sound hinted at the direction the band would take in the future, blending rock and roll with elements of country and blues. Spencer’s contributions to “Kiln House” reflected his diverse musical influences and underscored his importance in the band’s early years.
John McVie 1967-present
Alongside Mick Fleetwood, McVie is distinguished by his continuous presence in the band, appearing on every Fleetwood Mac release and solidifying over fifty years of unbroken service to the group’s evolving sound.
McVie’s early life in Ealing, West London, laid the foundation for his musical career. Despite initially dabbling in the trumpet and guitar, it was the bass guitar that ultimately captured his devotion, influenced by the likes of Jet Harris of The Shadows. His career trajectory took a decisive turn when John Mayall, in search of a bassist for his Bluesbreakers, was directed to McVie by Cliff Barton. This opportunity saw McVie transition from a daytime job as a tax inspector to a full-time musician, honing his craft alongside legends like Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
The formation of Fleetwood Mac saw McVie reunite with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green, stepping into the band to replace temporary bassist Bob Brunning. This marked the beginning of an era that would see Fleetwood Mac transition from a British blues band to a rock and roll powerhouse. McVie’s rhythm section partnership with Fleetwood provided the stable foundation upon which the band’s diverse soundscapes were built.
McVie’s personal life, particularly his marriage and subsequent divorce from bandmate Christine Perfect (later Christine McVie), intertwined with his professional world, notably influencing the band’s seminal album “Rumours.” Despite personal upheavals, McVie’s commitment to Fleetwood Mac remained steadfast, contributing to the band’s enduring success and international acclaim.
Beyond Fleetwood Mac, McVie’s contributions to music have been recognized with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. His bass playing, characterized by a blend of rhythmic precision and melodic intuition, has earned him a spot among the greatest bassists, underscored by his ranking on Rolling Stone’s list of 50 greatest bassists.
Danny Kirwan – 1968-1972
Danny Kirwan, born Daniel David Langran on 13 May 1950, emerged as a significant talent in the British music scene as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter with Fleetwood Mac between 1968 and 1972. His journey from a young musician in Brixton to a key member of one of the most influential bands of the era was marked by his exceptional guitar skills and creative songwriting. After his tenure with Fleetwood Mac, Kirwan embarked on a solo career, releasing albums from 1975 to 1979 and collaborating with notable artists such as Otis Spann and Chris Youlden. Despite facing personal challenges, Kirwan’s contributions to music were recognized with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a member of Fleetwood Mac.
Kirwan’s musical journey began in the vibrant streets of South London, where he was exposed to a wide array of musical influences from a young age. His mother, a singer, instilled in him a love for music that encompassed jazz, big-band sounds, and the pioneering guitar work of Django Reinhardt. By 15, Kirwan was already an accomplished guitarist, drawing inspiration from icons like Hank Marvin and Eric Clapton. His first band, Boilerhouse, caught the attention of Fleetwood Mac, leading to a pivotal moment when Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green saw Kirwan’s potential during a performance in Brixton.
Kirwan’s integration into Fleetwood Mac in 1968 marked a new chapter for the band, expanding their sound and pushing their musical boundaries. His contributions to iconic tracks such as “Albatross” and his influence on the band’s direction were profound. Kirwan’s ability to blend his intricate guitar work with Green’s established style helped Fleetwood Mac transition from pure blues to a more diverse rock sound. Albums like “Then Play On” showcased Kirwan’s songwriting prowess and his capacity to infuse Fleetwood Mac’s music with a new level of melodic sophistication.
Despite his significant impact on the band’s success, Kirwan’s time with Fleetwood Mac was marred by personal and professional challenges, leading to his departure in 1972. His post-Fleetwood Mac career saw him exploring new musical territories through solo projects, though he never quite recaptured the heights of his early success. Kirwan’s legacy, however, remains intact, defined by his contributions to one of the most enduring bands in rock history and his ability to leave an indelible mark on the music of Fleetwood Mac during a transformative period in their history.
Christine McVie – 1970 – 1998
Christine Anne McVie, born Christine Perfect on 12 July 1943 and passing on 30 November 2022, was a pivotal figure in the music world, best known for her role as the keyboardist, vocalist, and one of the primary songwriters in Fleetwood Mac. McVie’s journey through music took her from the British Blues scene with Chicken Shack in the mid-1960s to global stardom with Fleetwood Mac. She first collaborated with Fleetwood Mac in 1968 as a session player before officially joining in 1970, contributing significantly to the band’s evolving sound and success over the decades.
Christine’s musical roots were deeply embedded in her upbringing in the Furness area of Lancashire and later in Smethwick near Birmingham, where she was influenced by her father, a concert violinist and music lecturer, and her mother, a medium, psychic, and faith healer. McVie’s transition from classical piano training to rock and roll was marked by her early involvement in the local music scene and her education at Moseley School of Art in Birmingham.
McVie’s tenure with Chicken Shack showcased her blues-influenced piano skills and distinct voice, earning her critical acclaim and recognition as the UK’s best female vocalist in the late 1960s. Her marriage to John McVie led to her deeper involvement with Fleetwood Mac, where she became an integral member, contributing her songwriting, vocals, and keyboard skills to numerous albums, including the iconic “Rumours.”
Christine’s songs, such as “Don’t Stop,” “Everywhere,” and “Little Lies,” became defining tracks of Fleetwood Mac’s sound, highlighting her ability to craft songs that resonated with a wide audience. Despite her partial retirement in 1998, McVie’s impact on music continued through her solo work, her brief return to Fleetwood Mac, and her collaborations with band members, notably the duet album with Lindsey Buckingham.
McVie’s accolades, including her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement, underscore her significant contributions to music. Her legacy is marked by her melodic songwriting, warm vocals, and the enduring appeal of her music, both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. McVie’s passing in 2022 was mourned by fans and fellow musicians alike, who remembered her as a beloved figure and a central voice in one of the most successful bands in rock history.
Bob Weston joined Fleetwood Mac in 1972 as a lead guitarist and provided backing vocals, contributing to the albums “Penguin” (1973) and “Mystery to Me” (1973). His tenure with the band was brief, lasting until 1973, but his guitar work during this period added a new texture to Fleetwood Mac’s evolving sound. Weston’s career with Fleetwood Mac ended amid personal complications within the band, and he was let go. Despite his short stint, his contributions to these albums are remembered as part of the band’s transitional phase in the early 1970s. After leaving Fleetwood Mac, Weston continued to work in music, though he never reached the same level of fame. He passed away in 2012, leaving behind a legacy intertwined with Fleetwood Mac’s storied history.
Dave Walker joined Fleetwood Mac in 1972, bringing his talents as a lead and backing vocalist and harmonica player to the band. His time with Fleetwood Mac was during a period of experimentation and change, contributing to the “Penguin” (1973) album. Walker’s blues-infused vocal style added a distinct flavor to the band’s music during his brief tenure, which lasted until 1973. Despite his short time with the band and appearing on just one album, Walker’s contribution to “Penguin” is a part of Fleetwood Mac’s diverse musical tapestry. After his departure, Walker continued his music career, playing with various groups and pursuing solo projects, maintaining a presence in the rock and blues scenes.
Bob Welch’s entry into Fleetwood Mac in 1971 marked a significant transition for the band, both musically and personally for the members involved. Welch, introduced to the band through Judy Wong, a friend and part-time secretary for Fleetwood Mac, came into the fold during a time of upheaval and change. His audition at Benifold, the band’s communal home in Hampshire, was unconventional, as the band decided to bring him on board based on the strength of his songwriting heard through tape recordings, without a live audition.
Welch’s arrival coincided with the band’s exploration of new musical territories, moving away from their blues roots towards a more melodic rock sound. This shift was evident in the albums that Welch contributed to, starting with “Future Games.” His title track for this album indicated the band’s new direction, and his songwriting prowess began to shine through. The follow-up album, “Bare Trees,” featured “Sentinel Lady,” a track that would later become a hit in Welch’s solo career, showcasing his lasting impact on the band’s repertoire.
The period of Welch’s involvement with Fleetwood Mac was characterized by constant lineup changes, with the departure of Danny Kirwan and the inclusion of musicians like Dave Walker and Bob Weston. Despite these changes, the core of the band, including Mick Fleetwood and John and Christine McVie, remained intact, navigating through the challenges and ensuring the band’s continuity.
Albums like “Penguin” and “Mystery to Me” further showcased Welch’s contributions, with tracks like “Bright Fire” and “Revelation,” and the notable “Hypnotized,” which received considerable airplay. However, challenges such as aborted tours affected the commercial success of these albums, with “Mystery to Me” reaching only No. 67 in the U.S. charts.
Stevie Nicks -1975-present
Before her tenure with Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks pursued music with her then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham, forming the duo Buckingham Nicks. Their partnership, both musical and romantic, laid the groundwork for their eventual integration into Fleetwood Mac. In 1975, Mick Fleetwood, the drummer and co-founder of the band, was searching for a new recording facility in Los Angeles when he was introduced to the Buckingham Nicks album. Impressed by Buckingham’s guitar prowess, Fleetwood initially intended to invite him alone. However, Buckingham insisted that he and Nicks were a package deal. Thus, both joined Fleetwood Mac, marking the beginning of a new, highly successful chapter for the band.
Stevie Nicks brought a unique flair to Fleetwood Mac with her distinctive voice, mystical stage persona, and introspective songwriting. The first album featuring Nicks and Buckingham, “Fleetwood Mac” (1975), was a massive success, but it was the 1977 album “Rumours” that catapulted the band into rock royalty. Nicks’ contributions, including “Dreams,” which became the band’s only Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit, were pivotal. The album, a reflection of the internal romantic turmoil within the band, resonated with audiences worldwide, selling over 40 million copies.
Nicks’ time in Fleetwood Mac was marked by her tumultuous relationship with Buckingham, struggles with addiction, and the challenges of living in the public eye. Despite these personal battles, Nicks continued to contribute significantly to the band’s music. Albums like “Tusk” (1979) and “Mirage” (1982) featured prominent tracks by Nicks, including “Sara” and “Gypsy,” showcasing her evolving artistry and depth as a songwriter.
Lindsey Buckingham – 1975-2018
Buckingham’s influence on Fleetwood Mac was immediate and transformative. His innovative guitar techniques and sophisticated approach to songwriting and production played a critical role in the creation of the band’s eponymous 1975 album, “Fleetwood Mac,” which propelled them to stardom. However, it was the 1977 album “Rumours” that solidified Buckingham’s legacy within the band. As a producer and principal songwriter, Buckingham was instrumental in crafting the album’s distinctive sound, which blended pop sensibilities with rock and roll grit. “Rumours” went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time, thanks in part to Buckingham’s contributions like “Go Your Own Way” and “Second Hand News.”
Buckingham’s time with Fleetwood Mac was not without its challenges. The intense personal dynamics within the band, particularly his tumultuous relationship with Nicks, fueled much of the emotional depth in the band’s music but also led to conflict. Despite these tensions, Buckingham continued to push the band’s musical boundaries, as seen in the experimental 1979 album “Tusk.”
In addition to his work with Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham pursued a successful solo career, beginning with his 1981 album “Law and Order.” His solo work allowed him to explore different musical styles and themes, further showcasing his versatility as an artist. Despite his solo endeavors, Buckingham remained a key member of Fleetwood Mac, contributing to subsequent albums and participating in reunion tours.
Buckingham’s relationship with Fleetwood Mac has been marked by periods of departure and reunion. He left the band in 1987 but returned in 1997 for “The Dance” reunion tour and album. In 2018, Buckingham was again separated from Fleetwood Mac due to disagreements over the band’s upcoming tour plans.
Rick Vito – 1987–1991
Rick Vito’s journey with Fleetwood Mac began in September 1987 when he, along with Billy Burnette, was brought into the fold by Mick Fleetwood to rejuvenate the band’s lineup following Lindsey Buckingham’s departure. Vito’s role as the lead guitarist brought a fresh dynamic to the group, contributing to a new chapter in the band’s storied history.
Despite his impactful contribution, Vito’s tenure with Fleetwood Mac came to an end in November 1991 as he decided to embark on a solo career. However, his connection with the band and its members remained strong. This was exemplified by his participation in a memorable performance with former bandmates Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Billy Burnette, and John McVie during the pre-game show of Super Bowl XXVII in January 1993, a testament to the enduring relationships formed during his time with Fleetwood Mac.
Vito’s musical journey continued to flourish beyond Fleetwood Mac. In 2008, he reunited with Mick Fleetwood as part of the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, a collaboration that celebrated their shared love for blues music. Their partnership led to the recording of the live album “Blue Again!” in 2008, which received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2010.
Billy Burnette – 1987–1995
When Lindsey Buckingham departed from Fleetwood Mac in 1987, it marked a significant transition for the band, leading to the inclusion of Billy Burnette and guitarist Rick Vito. This new lineup contributed to Fleetwood Mac’s evolving sound, as evidenced by their “Greatest Hits” album in 1988, which introduced fans to new tracks “As Long as You Follow” and “No Questions Asked,” featuring contributions from Burnette and Vito.
The subsequent album, “Behind the Mask,” released in 1990, further showcased Burnette’s songwriting capabilities with tracks like “Hard Feelings” and “When It Comes to Love,” among others. This period was characterized by a shift in the band’s dynamics and musical direction, underlined by the departures of Vito and Stevie Nicks by the end of 1991, and Christine McVie’s decision to step back from touring.
Burnette’s departure from Fleetwood Mac in early 1993 to focus on his solo career and acting did not mark the end of his association with the band. He returned to Fleetwood Mac in 1994, joining a lineup that included new members Bekka Bramlett and Dave Mason. This iteration of the band embarked on tours and eventually released the album “Time” in 1995, featuring songs co-written by Burnette like “Talkin’ to My Heart” and “Dreamin’ the Dream.”
Bekka Bramlett – 1993-1995
Bekka Bramlett joined the group in the early 1990s, during a period of transition for the band following the departure of key members, including Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Bekka’s inclusion in Fleetwood Mac brought a fresh energy and vocal prowess to the band. She contributed to the album “Time,” released in 1995, and participated in tours, bringing her vibrant stage presence to the band’s performances.
After Fleetwood Mac went on hiatus in 1996, Bekka Bramlett and fellow Fleetwood Mac member Billy Burnette formed the country duo Bekka & Billy. The duo moved to Nashville, tapping into their country roots and the rich musical scene of the city. They worked with producer Garth Fundis and released an album titled “Bekka and Billy” in 1997. The project showcased their harmonious blend and songwriting skills, though the duo eventually disbanded in 1998.
Dave Mason – 1993-1995
Dave Mason’s stint with Fleetwood Mac in the mid-1990s was a notable chapter in the band’s long and varied history, though it was marked by Mason’s own reservations about his fit within the group. Joining the band after the departure of key members, Mason contributed to the 1995 album “Time,” a release that saw Fleetwood Mac exploring new musical territories. During his time with the band, Mason toured extensively, including notable gigs opening for REO Speedwagon and Crosby, Stills & Nash, which provided audiences with a blend of classic rock flavors.
Despite these contributions, Mason’s tenure with Fleetwood Mac was characterized by a sense of discomfort and a feeling of being out of place. His reflections on the experience highlight the challenges of stepping into a role previously filled by Lindsey Buckingham, a guitarist renowned for his distinctive style and profound influence on the band’s sound. Mason’s comments about the difficulty of replacing Buckingham, shared in multiple interviews post-departure, underscore the respect he holds for Buckingham’s talent and the unique contribution Buckingham made to Fleetwood Mac’s legacy.
Mike Campbell – 2018-present
It’s difficult to think of Mike Campbell as a member of Fleetwood Mac. Rock fans will always remember him as a long-time member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. For years, we saw him standing next to Tom Petty on stage. Mike Campbell became a member of Fleetwood Mac in 2018, replacing Lindsey Buckingham.
Neil Finn – 2018-present
Neil Fin is another famous musician who fans may have difficulty accepting as the newest member of Fleetwood Mac. Neil Finn is best known for being a principal member of Split Enz, of which he shared lead duties with his brother Tim and the lead singer, guitarist, and founding member of Crowded House.
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Fleetwood Mac Band Members article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024