.

Fleetwood Mac, Label Clash Over Continued 'Albatross' Success

The band refuses to play the song without Peter Green despite its continually favorable chart performance

Fleetwood Mac in London.
Michael Putland/Getty Images
September 13, 1973

LONDON — Fleetwood Mac returned to England from America in 1969 to find their instrumental "Albatross" high on the BBC chart. They returned to England from America in 1973 and, again, "Albatross" was high up there – in the Top Three. The problem was that only two members of the 1969 edition of Fleetwood Mac are still in the group, and the current edition has resisted audience chants to play the hit.

The trouble started when CBS, Fleetwood Mac's former record company, issued a series of 25 oldies in browser boxes. "We didn't give the records any promotion," a CBS spokesman recalled, "but 'Albatross' started selling along with, and we can't explain it, Doris Day's 'Move Over, Darling.'"

100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Peter Green

When the single entered the charts, Top of the Pops showed a four-year-old film of the group, and MC Kenny Everett announced the band no longer existed. The current Fleetwood Mac demanded and received an apology the next week, and pop papers headlined that Peter Green was coming out of retirement to do six albums. Cued from television that Fleetwood Mac were still extant, fans unfamiliar with their current material turned up at concerts and shouted for "Albatross." The CBS Greatest Hits album featuring Peter Green entered the charts, outselling Reprise's current Penguin. But, the group held firm and refused to perform "Albatross."

"I think we've been very brave," said vocalist Dave Walker, "especially John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, since they've been with the group from the beginning. In America they'll let you get on to what you're doing. Here they won't let you progress."

McVie himself was puzzled by the reports of Green's return to recording. "I talked to him and he has no such plans. Soon he'll be going to Tahiti. When he left the group he gave away the £84,000 [$200,000] he'd earned, and now he's getting rid of his guitars, all his possessions."

Walker said Green's fame was one reason Fleetwood Mac would not play "Albatross." "That song will go down in British pop history," he predicted, "but it's identifiable with Peter Green and nobody else. What's the point of our doing it? Bob Weston could play it well today, but some fucker would say, 'Where's Peter Green?'"

McVie said the group had broken in America after "Albatross," and added the recent tour had shown Americans were more receptive than Britons to the current material. He remembered vividly the Stockton performance, which had turned into a free-for-all (Rolling Stone, June 7th, 1973). "It was one of the best things the band has ever done, and we were left like dummies up there when they pulled the power."

Walker was more expressive. "We were having a laugh with some cops, and then ten minutes later they're acting like animals. They tear-gassed the dressing rooms before they gassed the kids! Kids who hadn't done a thing wrong were getting gassed!"

Walker and Fleetwood Mac will not receive a gold record for "Albatross." "The purpose of presenting a gold record is to please the artist and get publicity for the company," a CBS press officer remarked. "But in this case the artist wouldn't be pleased and the company doesn't want the publicity. So there's no point, is there?"

This story is from the September 13th, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone.


To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com