In 1969, Fleetwood Mac, still years away from their iconic lineup, was making waves with their unique approach to blues rock. Led by frontman Peter Green, the band showcased their distinctive sound through the mesmerizing track “Black Magic Woman.” This article delves into the real story behind this captivating song, its evolution from earlier compositions, and its lasting impact on both Fleetwood Mac and the music world.
A Laid-Back Approach Amidst a Rock Revolution
While many bands of the late 1960s embraced a raucous, high-energy style, Fleetwood Mac took a more laid-back approach to their music. This approach was evident in their instrumental hit “Albatross.” John Lennon of The Beatles himself praised the band’s soft, captivating sound, appreciating the unique vocal and instrumental style that Peter Green brought to Fleetwood Mac’s music.
The Birth of “Black Magic Woman”
The roots of “Black Magic Woman” can be traced back to two earlier tracks involving Peter Green. Green was inspired by Otis Rush’s blues standard “All Your Love (I Miss Loving You),” and following the advice of his former bandmate John Mayall, he decided to create a new song based on the first lines. This led Green to craft an earlier version called “I Loved Another Woman,” which appeared on Fleetwood Mac’s debut album in 1968. Although the lyrics differed, the haunting melody and Latin rhythm were already present in this earlier incarnation.
The Transformation to “Black Magic Woman”
While “I Loved Another Woman” laid the foundation, it was the evolution to “Black Magic Woman” that truly captivated audiences. The lyrics shifted to a dark, mystical tale with references to a “Black Magic Woman” trying to lead the narrator astray. These lyrics were inspired by Green’s former girlfriend, Sandra Elsdon, whom he referred to as “Magic Mamma.” With this transformation, the song took on a new life, becoming a mesmerizing blend of blues and mysticism.
Impact and Legacy
Fleetwood Mac’s version of “Black Magic Woman” became a significant hit for the band, showcasing their talent and distinct sound. However, it was Santana’s cover of the song, featuring Gregg Rolie on vocals, that reached greater heights. Santana’s rendition, included in his album “Abraxas,” achieved immense popularity, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song’s enduring legacy lies in its ability to capture listeners with its captivating melodies, mystical themes, and irresistible Latin-infused rhythm.
“Black Magic Woman” stands for Fleetwood Mac’s early musical prowess and ability to create captivating compositions. Peter Green’s transformation of earlier material into a haunting, enchanting tale of mysticism added a layer of intrigue to the band’s repertoire. This song’s enduring impact is evident in the popularity of Santana’s cover version, solidifying its place as a classic in the annals of rock music. “Black Magic Woman” remains a shining example of Fleetwood Mac’s early artistry and their ability to infuse their music with a touch of magic.