Here’s the “Real” Fleetwood Mac Playing “Black Magic Woman” in 1974
One of the group's final shows before Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks arrived to usher in a new era of radio rock.Photo: Joe Sia Music Features Fleetwood Mac
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The brief and awkward window between Fleetwood Mac’s late ‘60s start as a pioneering British blues band and their mid-’70s reign as a pop juggernaut is often neglected by fans and historians alike. This period was full of personnel changes, beginning with the departure, in 1970, of the band’s founder and leader, guitarist Peter Green, as he slipped further into drug-induced insanity. In 1974, Fleetwood Mac were a still a year away from re-charting their course with new additions Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. In fact, at the time, the group’s previous management had a bogus Fleetwood Mac out on the road, so the band wasn’t just competing with the glory of a previous lineup; they were also battling to make it clear that they were indeed the real Fleetwood Mac.
This recording, captured on Dec. 15, 1974, at the Record Plant in Sausalito, Calif., captures the lineup fronted by Bob Welch and Christine McVie performing some of their finest material of that era, including a few tributes to Green. Late in the set, the band alights on three Green classics: “Black Magic Woman” (which originally appeared in 1968 as a Fleetwood Mac single, but would of course become a huge hit for Santana in 1970), “Oh Well” and “Rattlesnake Shake.”
This recording marks one of the last existing live documents of Fleetwood Mac with Welch on board. Like Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwin before him, Welch too would soon depart to pursue a solo career, leaving the band in search of another frontman/guitar player. They had no idea what kind of astronomical success lay in store for them.