John McVie (Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers)




He is the Mac in Fleetwood Mac!


Seminal Sides: John Mayall & The Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton; Then Play On (1969), Future Games (1971), Mystery to Me (1973), Fleetwood Mac (1975), Rumours (1977), Tusk (1979), Live (1980), Say You Will (2003).


The late, truly great British blues guitar icon Peter Green was clever to name his fledgling ensemble for drummer Mick Fleetwood and former tax inspector / bassist John Graham McVie. Acknowledged among the most identifiable and flexible rhythm sections in rock history, Fleetwood’s bona fide Mac is a consummate song player – from pop to improvisatory blues.


Born in London in 1945, John commenced his musical journey as a teen, moving from trumpet, then to guitar, and then to bass when his dad purchased a snazzy Fender akin to Jet Harris – which must have cost a small fortune in the economically depressed post-war UK! 


McVie’s tenure in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers commenced when he was still relatively new to the instrument. Yet McVie help set the template for standard rock blues electric bass: working the lower register, outlining the changes, plying subtle harmonic extensions, and supporting the resident god-like guitar hero with a fat tone.


As with The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, Mac’s approach evokes how Willie Dixon might have sounded had he played electric – which is quite logical given that his boss John Mayall (who hired and fired Mac several times) tutored the emerging musician, and was a staunch Dixon devotee.


Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (aka “Beano”) is among the most influential albums of the classic rock era. Note that McVie and drummer Hughie Flint worked the pocket in the service of Mayall and Slowhand with a decidedly swing feel.


John McVie Sound & Vision…


John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers


“All Your Love”


“Steppin’ Out”


With Fleetwood Mac, and its various singer / songwriter / “front persons” including Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham, Dave Mason, Rick Vito, Billy Burnette, Neil Finn, and Bekka Bramlett, McVie waxed inventive passages in support of the superstar singers and their chart-topping songs and album tracks. Often the subject of his ex-wife Christine McVie’s songs on Rumours, McVie’s weapons of choice included the Fender Jazz, Precision, and Telecaster Bass, and Alembic. Nowadays he’s a Lakland man. In 1992 John waxed his sole solo slab John McVie’s Gotta Band with Lola Thomas.




McVie also worked the occasional session, most notably with Warren Zevon on the classic track “Werewolves of London” with Mick Fleetwood helming the drum chair:


And dig these Deep Mac tracks…..


“Rattlesnake Shake” (Then Play On / 1969)


“Coming Your Way” (Then Play On)  


“Station Man” (Kiln House / 1970)


“Sands of Time” (Future Games / 1971)


“Child of Mine” (Bare Trees / 1972)–ImFAn8oU 


“Revelation” (Penguin / 1973)


“Miles Away” and “Hypnotized” (Mystery to Me / 1973)


“Bermuda Triangle” (Heroes are Hard to Find / 1974)


“Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac / 1975) and “The Chain” (Rumours / 1977)


Photos Courtesy of Fleetwood Mac . Com