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Bob Weston 1/2012

Bob WestonJanuary 3, 2012Robert Joseph “Bob” Weston was born in Plymouth, England on 1 November 1947. Initially he was taught violin at 8, but at the age of 12 decided to switch to guitar. Arriving in London in the mid-Sixties, he joined a group called The Kinetic, which recorded an album and supported Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix at concerts in France.Back in London, Weston’s skills as a creative blues guitarist led to work with the singer Aliki Ashman and the organist and singer Graham Bond.  In 1970, Weston joined the backing group of the blues singer Long John Baldry, touring Europe and the US as well as playing on Baldry’s album Everything Stops for Tea (1972), produced by two of the singer’s proteges, Rod Stewart and Elton John.

Baldry’s band sometimes performed on the same bill as Fleetwood Mac, which since 1968 had been in the forefront of British blues groups. This was due mainly to the imagination and skill of the singer and guitarist Peter Green, who had crafted such big hits as Albatross and Man of the World (both 1969). But Green began to binge on LSD, and left the band in 1970; the following year, during an American tour, his fellow guitarist Jeremy Spencer walked out of his hotel in Los Angeles to go shopping and never returned — he had joined a religious group called The Children of God. A third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, was fired in autumn 1972, to be replaced by Weston. In 1972, the remaining members decided to recruit Dave Walker of the blues rock band Savoy Brown as lead vocalist, and Weston as lead guitarist.

He recalled meeting Kirwan in The Speakeasy, a musicians’ club in London’s West End. “He rather sarcastically wished me the best of luck, adding ‘You’re going to need it.’ Kirwan’s remark proved to be prophetic, although to begin with, Weston made a significant contribution to the group’s sound on stage and in the studio. Fleetwood Mac was in transition from being a blues band to a more melodic pop-rock one, and Weston was adept at both styles. He played on the 1973 albums, Penguin and Mystery to Me, co-writing several songs. Penguin is regarded by many Fleetwood Mac aficionados as one of the group’s most underrated recordings.

They were also on a schedule of relentless touring, which was beginning to take its toll. Walker was unceremoniously fired early in 1973, there were tensions between the husband-and- wife team of Christine Perfect (McVie) and John McVie, and when Weston began an affair with Jenny Boyd, the wife of drummer Mick Fleetwood and sister of George Harrison/Eric Clapton wife Patti (Layla), the scene was set for a split. This duly came in Lincoln, Nebraska, during an American tour in October 1973. Weston was woken by a phone call summoning him to the tour manager’s hotel room. He was told that other group members had already departed, that the remaining tour dates would be cancelled and that his services were no longer required. He was put on the next flight back to London. Weston was featured on the album Penguin (1973), playing lead guitar alongside Bob Welch. He also sang with Christine McVie on Did You Ever Love Me, and wrote the instrumental Caught in the Rain. On the album Mystery to Me, he co-wrote the track Forever.

Weston’s fall from grace was one of the more pedestrian dramas to have afflicted the band’s line-up over the years. Named after the drummer, Mick Fleetwood, and bass guitarist John McVie, Fleetwood Mac initially featured the great Peter Green who started the group and named it after his favorite Engine Room, Fleetwood and MacVie- on lead guitar, and had its first No 1 single in 1969 with Albatross.

Weston however landed on his feet in London, where his Fleetwood Mac credentials opened doors. He had abortive discussions with George Harrison about collaborations, but toured with blues veteran Alexis Korner and played on Sandy Denny’s final album, Rendezvous (1977). His most lucrative project was with the actor Murray Head, star of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. Weston featured on Head’s album Say It Ain’t So (1975), a big hit in France and Canada, and led Head’s touring band.

Weston also recorded three solo albums, Nightlight (1980), Studio Picks (1981) and There’s a Heaven (1999), and spent much of the last two decades writing or arranging music for films and television in France and Britain. Still in touch with older musicians, he had been due to record with the ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor.

Weston, who lived alone in a flat in Brent Cross, London, was found dead on 3 January 2012. His post-mortem showed he died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage

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