On This Day Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross' Hit Number 1
29 Jan 2021
On 29th January 1969 Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross' hit number 1 in the UK Singles Chart and remained there for a week, as the band began their ascent to stardom. Composed by the band's leader and founding member, Peter Green, the evocative instrumental track features Green's soulful guitar work accompanied by Mick Fleetwood's unique drumming techniques. It is also a great example of the harmonic partnership between Green and guitarist Danny Kirwan who joined the band two months prior to the song being recorded.
In Mick Fleetwood's limited edition Love That Burns
, which documents Fleetwood Mac's beginnings as a blues band, Green recalls performing 'Albatross' live in 1969.
'Fleetwood Mac played a short tour with B.B. King, along with Duster Bennett, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. We played 'Albatross' at one of the rehearsals and when we finished B.B. applauded us and said, 'That's beautiful, Peter.' - Peter Green
In Love That Burns
, Fleetwood looks beyond the song's soothing melody to consider the conflicting circumstances that Peter Green's composition was borne out of and the possible symbolism of the albatross.
'Fleetwood Mac got famous so quickly; we were still playing small clubs even as we were becoming pop stars. Our aptly named first number one hit, 'Albatross', wasn't understood by our hardcore blues fans. They thought we'd sold out, judging it a little light in the loafers for their taste. The song is beautiful but also carries a huge sadness on closer listening. It was Peter stretching himself beyond the blues. The burden of our success haunted him. After all, he had created this, the very thing he wanted to avoid. I know the mantle became too heavy to bear, the albatross around his neck, if you like. The responsibility of keeping that giant bird in the air would eventually be too much for Peter, a haunting story in itself.' - Mick Fleetwood
As of 2019, the song had sold nearly one million copies in the UK and remains Fleetwood Mac's only number-one hit in the UK Singles Chart.