How Fleetwood Mac Inspired The Beatles On Abbey Road
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press
“That’s where we pretend to be Fleetwood Mac for a few minutes,” John Lennon shared with a London radio DJ in 1969, shortly after the release of the Beatles‘ Abbey Road.
Fleetwood Mac at the time was not the US chart topping juggernaut which they would later evolve to become, but a successful UK blues outfit founded by drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Peter Green in 1967.
“We did the introduction,” Lennon recounted, “we call it the ‘Sun riff,’ the little instrumental bit that’s like Fleetwood Mac, before we start singing, and we did it again at the end, so we are able to sing it to make them different, you know, so it wasn’t just the same riff.”
Reverb & Guitar
Discussing ‘Sun King’ in 1987 George Harrison also noted the inspiration the Abbey Road song had taken from Fleetwood Mac.
“At the time, ‘Albatross’ was out,” Harrison shared, namechecking the 1968 Fleetwood Mac single, “with all the reverb on guitar.“
Written by Peter Green in 1968, the instrumental single had climbed to #1 on the UK charts in 1969.
The Chuck Berry Connection
“We said,” George continued, “‘Let’s be Fleetwood Mac doing ‘Albatross’, just to get going.'”
“It never really sounded like Fleetwood Mac,” he concluded, “but that was the point of origin.”
When considering the song which had inspired Fleetwood Mac it’s little surprise the song had caught the Fab Four’s ears.
Mac are thought to have drawn their own inspiration from Chuck Berry, who the Beatles also adored.
More specifically ‘Albatross’ holds a great deal in common with Berry’s 1950s instrumentals ‘Deep Feeling’ and ‘Blues For Hawaiians’.
Coming Full Circle
Appearing at a Peter Green tribute concert in February 2020, Mick Fleetwood – after mistakenly recalling ‘Sun King’ as ‘Something’ – dedicated a performance of ‘Albatross’ (featuring Pink Floyd‘s David Gilmour on lap steel guitar) to George Harrison.
(George and Mick were briefly brothers in law when Fleetwood married the sister of Harrison’s first wife Pattie Boyd in 1970.)
Recalling John Lennon’s 1969 interview, Mick recounted how John’s words left him elated.
He was touched something he had helped create could inspire a band which had meant so much to him.