Danny Kirwan obituary | The Times

The Times

Distinctive vibrato-style guitarist who helped his band top the charts before succumbing to ‘the curse of Fleetwood Mac’ in 1972

From left: Kirwan with Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood (rear), Jeremy Spencer and John McVie

When Danny Kirwan joined Fleetwood Mac in 1968 his arrival created a three-pronged guitar attack that turned the group into one of the biggest-selling bands in Britain.

His unique vibrato style helped the instrumental Albatross to No 1, and further chart-topping hits featuring his distinctive guitar work followed with Man Of The World and Oh Well. Yet by 1972 Kirwan and both his fellow guitarists had gone, all three of them succumbing to psychotic breakdowns in what came to be known as “the curse of Fleetwood Mac”.

The first of them, Peter Green, quit in 1970, giving away his guitars and his money after a schizophrenic attack brought on by hallucinogenic drugs. Jeremy Spencer disappeared the next year, walking out of the band’s hotel, saying he was going to buy a magazine. He never returned and was later found to have joined a religious cult.

Yet Kirwan’s meltdown was in many ways the most dramatic of all. Sensitive and mentally fragile, he struggled to deal with fame and responsibility, went days on end without eating and developed a crippling stage fright, which in turn drove him to alcoholism.

His career as a rock star came to a shattering halt one night in 1972 on tour in America. Back stage while the band were tuning up before going on, something snapped and he hurled his Les Paul guitar at a dressing-room mirror, showering broken glass over his bandmates. Smashing his fists and head against the wall until they were bleeding, he refused to take the stage and instead spent the gig heckling from the audience as the band struggled on without him. He was sacked and never played with Fleetwood Mac again. Continue reading Danny Kirwan obituary | The Times