The story of Danny Kirwan is maybe more dramatic than any of the brilliant guitarists for Fleetwood Mac. He was recruited at age 17 into Fleetwood Mac by Peter Green to be the 3rd guitarist (with Jeremy Spencer) of the band during their pure blues period; but soon he became the leading force after Spencer and Green quit. The band has always evolved depending who were the guitarists. Spencer joined Fleetwood Mac since its inception in July 1967. He remained with the band until his abrupt departure in February 1971 when he joined a religious group called the “Children of God”; now known as “The Family International”,with which he is still affiliated. Peter Green’s exit was far more bizarre. While “tripping” on LSD Green was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in psyche wards undergoing electrocution therapy during the mid-1970s. Many sources attest to his lethargic, trance like state during this period. Without any notice he attended a Hippy commune in Germany and felt it only proper to donate all his money to them. During these tested times Kirwan had to share the composing role with the newly recruited Bob Welch and Christine McVie. There’s something extremely fragile and delicate in Danny Kirwan’s approach of music. A somewhat deep humanity that travels through diverse times and styles. Even a magical touch in his weakest or less personal songs. He quickly quitted the blues heritage to move toward more floating and atmospheric horizons.The power, subtlety and lush, hypnotic and blissful emotion influenced so many performers …His lyrics became more and more intimate and interesting the further he went down the slippery slope.
Like so many song writers, sadness and depression are never far from his apparently most serene songs. His problem was not the usual drugs that destroyed most of musicians of this era but a more conventional one: alcohol. According to those who knew him at the times, he was less and less predictive and uneasy to cope with. Kirwan’s guitar style was not flamboyant or spectacular, but was to the service of the song. He wrote songs like “Station Man”… “Danny’s Chant” and “Tell Me All The Things You Do”… Finally, he was more modern than his contemporaries and more in the vein of what Johnny Marr would be for the Smiths. After he was sacked by the band, he changed physically, lost his blond angel “physionomy” and recorded 3 solo rather unsuccessful LPs between 1975 and 1979 that were much more mainstream pop-song oriented than what he composed during his Fleetwood Mac period.
What’s next is obscure. It seems he became more or less homeless and dead broke. He was traced down by the Missing Persons Bureau after Mick Fleetwood, the band’s founder, heard about his plight. Mr Kirwan had been living in St Mungo’s Hostel for homeless people in the West End of London for the past four years. Kirwan was fired before their success with Rumours, the album that sold 40 million copies in the late 1970s. He couldn’t handle the lifestyle and the women and the travelling… it twas’ all too much…
Since then he has been living on social security and ‘dribs and drabs’ of royalties from the band’s early days. During his later years he appeared cheerful but disheveled, he told of constant travels with a rucksack over his shoulder and five years living as a hermit in a dark basement flat in Brixton, south London.
Strange that nobody is providing any information regarding the cause Kirwan’s death… everyone has the right to have his anonymity respected.. Not perfect (nothing to do with Christine) but a tribute for this great composer and his sad destiny.