Tag Archives: John McVie

Enjoy Every Sandwich – Warren Zevon and his Werewolves of London

28 Sep

In yesterday’s post, Aaron mentioned Warren Zevon and included an embedded video of Zevon’s most well known song, “Werewolves of London.” The sardonic and hilarious song was released on Zevon’s breakout album Excitable Boy in 1978 and it reached the #21 spot on the American Top 40 charts in mid-1978. “Werewolves of London” was Zevon’s only appearance on the chart, but let’s ignore popularity charts and just discuss the wonder that was Warren Zevon and the utmost joy that others will always have when they listen to “Werewolves of London” and any of his other lyrical masterpieces.

Zevon’s grasp on lyrics was strikingly apt and vivid. David Letterman, who was Zevon’s good friend before Zevon died of cancer in 2003, described his music as “evocative,” and I think that is a good adjective to use. Zevon’s folk was not classic, but edgy. His lyrics were unconventional and enjoyably morose. He also had the ability to turn off the playful and upbeat hits and bathe listeners with soft melody and heartbreaking lyrics. The man truly had it all and his talent is often overlooked. And it is a shame that Zevon had a life-long aversion to doctors. He died at the young age of 56.

“Enjoy every sandwich” comes from Zevon’s last appearance on Letterman. Like I mentioned, he developed a close relationship with Letterman and band-leader Paul Shaffer. So much so, that Zevon would often fill in for Shaffer when Shaffer was unable to perform during the show. On Zevon’s last appearance on Letterman, when his sure-death prognosis was already known, Letterman asked him if he knew more about life and death now that he practically knew that death was an immediate certainty. Zevon said, “enjoy every sandwich,” a simple, but profound response that fit his character well. Zevon was Letterman’s only guest for the full hour and he performed several songs. The day after Zevon’s death (months later), Letterman annouced the sad news to the national audience:

I’ve written about Zevon before on this blog. The Wind, the last album he recorded prior to his death, is a tour de force. Zevon performances are invigorating and “Keep me in your Heart” is a tear-jerker. But, since I have already written about those songs before, I want to feature “Werewolves of London,” a song that has a “surprising fact.”

The song has been covered SEVERAL times, but that is not the surprising fact. Accompanying Zevon on the song is bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame. I always thought that was an interesting tidbit of knowledge. To finish off this Zevon post, I am going to include a cover of “Werewolves of London.” Take it away Adam Sandler:

John McVie – From the Bluesbreakers to The Chain

5 Jul

John McVie? Isn’t he the bassist from Fleetwood Mac? Absolutely. But he wasn’t always in Fleetwood Mac. Welcome John McVie into this week’s installment of “Same Artist, Different Place.”

McVie got his start by playing in High School with a cover band. This has become an almost hackneyed opening to all musician stories, but High School cover bands are truly the way that most famous musicians get started. So the lesson here is to seek out the talented musicians in your High School (like McVie) and latch on to their band. Can’t play an instrument? No matter, be their manager or something. Let’s get back to reality.

McVie played music from the Shadows with his band Krewsaders until leaving school at 17 for tax inspector training. Music, at that time, became a side hobby until bassist Cliff Barton turned down a part in a new Chicago-blues style band called John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and suggested that Mayall give McVie an audition. Mayall listened and was impressed with McVie. So, Mcvie, with no formal training in music, was accepted into the Bluesbreakers. Mayall gave him albums from B.B. King and other blues musicians to study.

Before Fleetwood Mac, there was the Bluesbreakers, who would later become known as a talented platform band, where English musicians went before becoming famous with other acts (kind of like The Yardbirds). Musicians like Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, “Sugarcane” Harris, Andy Fraser and Aynsley Dunbar played with the band. The band was exceptionally talented and it sustained itself with tremendously talented musicians.

After Clapton and Bruce left the Bluesbreakers (they would later form Cream), Mayall added guitarist Peter Green in 1966 and soon after added drummer Mick Fleetwood. I bet you see where this is going. McVie developed a great relationship with Green and Fleetwood and after Green was replaced by Mick Taylor he started a new band which he called Fleetwood Mac, after his beloved rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie. It didn’t take too much convincing to get Fleetwood over to the new band and after McVie became dissatisfied with Bluesbreaker’s move towards Jazz he joined the new band in 1967.

The rest is history.

Here is McVie playing “All Your Love” with the Bluesbreakers (Eric Clapton on guitar).

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