Danny Kirwan, the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist who played on five of the band’s early albums, has died. No cause of death was announced for Kirwan, who passed away in London at age 68, according to Rolling Stone. The late guitarist s survived by one son.
Mick Fleetwood confirmed Danny’s death on Fleetwood Mac’s Facebook page, describing the late blues guitarist as “a huge force” in the band’s early years.
“His love for the Blues led him to being asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1968, where he made his musical home for many years,” Mick Fleetwood wrote.”Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood Mac, that has now endured for over fifty years. Thank you, Danny Kirwan. You will forever be missed!”
Danny Kirwan was 18-years-old when he was invited to join Fleetwood Mac in 1968, making his debut in the band, which then featured Fleetwood, John McVie, Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer, on the No. 1 single “Albatross.”
Kirwan went on to play on a total of five Fleetwood Mac albums from 1969 to 1972: Then Play On, Blues Jam at Chess, Kiln House, Future Games, and Bare Trees. His epic guitar work was heavily featured on some of Fleetwood Mac’s earliest classics, including “Oh Well,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” and “Then Play On.”
According to Variety, during a tour in Germany in the early 1970s, Danny Kirwan and Peter Green reportedly took LSD laced with a powerful ingredient which was said to have caused significant long-term changes in their behavior. It wasn’t long before Green left Fleetwood Mac. By 1972, Kirwan’s escalating alcoholism and accompanying feuds with his bandmates led to his firing from the band.
Kirwan went on to record several solo albums but later had a period of homelessness as he dealt with mental health issues. In a rare interview with The Independent in 1993, Danny Kirwan talked about how he came to join Fleetwood Mac.
“I was lucky to have played for the band at all,” Danny said. “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.”
In 1998, Danny Kirwan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contributions to Fleetwood Mac, but he skipped the ceremony.
You can see Danny Kirwan playing with Fleetwood Mac in 1969 in the video below.