Danny Kirwan, the guitarist who joined Fleetwood Mac at age 18 and played on five of the band's albums, died Friday in London at age 68. His death was announced by Mick Fleetwood on the group's Facebook page; no cause was given.
"Danny was a huge force in our early years ... 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," Fleetwood wrote.
Kirwan was born on May 13, 1950 and joined the band in 1968. He appeared on five of Fleetwood Mac's albums: 1969's Then Play On and Blues Jam at Chess; 1970's Kiln House; 1971's Future Games; and finally on 1972's Bare Trees. In a 2017 interview, Mick Fleetwood recalled Kirwan as a massively important force in the group: "Danny was a quantum leap ahead of us creatively ... He is the lost component. In many ways, Danny is a forgotten hero," he told music critic Jim Farber.
Kirwan was fired from the band in 1972, reportedly after an incident in which he and bandmate Bob Welch fought over tuning before a gig. Kirwan reportedly refused to go onstage, smashed his guitar, and then criticized the band's performance. ("It was the straw that broke the camel's back," Fleetwood told Farber.)