Danny Kirwan, the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist who played on five of the British band’s albums, died Friday at the age of 68.
“Today was greeted by the sad news of the passing of Danny Kirwan in London, England. Danny was a huge force in our 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,” 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!”
Kirwan joined Fleetwood Mac following the release of 1968’s Mr. Wonderful – his first appearance with the band was their Number One single “Albatross” – and would record five albums with the band while serving as guitarist and singer: 1969’s Then Play On (the band’s last Peter Green album) and Blues Jam at Chess, 1970’s Kiln House (the first Mac album to feature Christine McVie), 1971’s Future Games and 1972’s Bare Trees.
Due to his alcoholism, Kirwan was fired from Fleetwood Mac during the tour in support of Bare Trees in 1972. Over the second half of the Seventies, Kirwan released four solo albums. However, Kirwan’s next few decades were reportedly marred by bouts of mental health issues and homelessness.
“I’ve been through a bit of a rough patch but I’m not too bad,” Kirwan told the Independent in a rare interview in 1993, after Mick Fleetwood asked the Missing Person Bureau to seek out his former guitarist. “I get by and I suppose I am homeless, but then I’ve never really had a home since our early days on tour. I couldn’t handle it all mentally and I had to get out. I can’t settle.”
For his contributions to Fleetwood Mac, Kirwan was among the eight members of the band – along with Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, John McVie, Christine McVie and Jeremy Spencer – that were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998; Kirwan did not attend the induction ceremony.