Who Did ‘Black Magic Woman’ Woman First Before Santana?

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Fleetwood Mac English Rose albumSong: Black Magic Woman (1969)

Artist: Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green

Album: English Rose (Epic)

Starting with the lyrics ‘don’t turn your back on me baby,’ Black Magic Woman, is best known for the Santana version from 1971. The original, and the best, is from Fleetwood Mac, off the album English Rose, in 1969.

The song was written by Fleetwood Mac’s original founder, the English blues guitarist Peter Green, who left John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1967 to form his own group, and was joined by Bluesbreaker members John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). Many people do not know that Fleetwood Mac, upon its arrival, was one of the biggest blues bands in Great Britain.

Green’s playing on Black Magic Woman may be his best in his history with the band, and it has much to offer in terms of tone and expression compared to Carlos Santana’s more stylized and complex version, which mixes rock, Latin and blues with three drummers, a keyboard solo, and more Jazz influenced soloing while combining Green’s song with Gypsy Queen by Gabor Szabo, along with the addition of “Oye Come Va” by Tito Puente. To me, as with most Santana covers, it is overintellectualized and almost soulless.

Fleetwood Mac’s version, unlike Santana’s, did not chart in the United States but was a Top 40 hit in the U.K. Santana’s cover reached no. 4 on the Billboard chart. Santana’s version became famous enough that Fleetwood Mac had to point out, when they performed the song on stage, that they had done it first.

Fleetwood Mac had begun to move away from their blues beginnings with their first single Albatross in 1968, as well as I Want You and Sung King. after the release of their third album, Then Play On, in 1969, Green left the group because of drug problems. Although the remaining guitarists Danny Kirwin and Jeremy Spencer, who played slide, were fine blues guitarists in their own right, and despite the fact that Kirwan could imitate Green’s style on guitar quite well, the era of Fleetwood Mac as a leading blues band was ended.

Peter Green did return to the band briefly in 1971 to help finish a tour when Jeremy Spencer suddenly left to join a religious cult. After this, Green, for many years, dealt with mental health issues and was even homeless for a time. He returned to music in the late seventies, himself in his late seventies, and released several blues and jazz albums such as In the Skies, and Little Dreamer. He remains a big influence on blues musicians.

Some other Peter Green songs with Fleetwood Mac you should listen to are Oh Well and The Green Manalishi with the Two-Pronged Crown, which Judas Priest covered.

After Green’s departure, Fleetwood Mac’s history as a mega-successful pop group is well-known.

Black Magic Woman Sample Lyrics

Don’t turn your back on me baby
Don’t turn your back on me baby
Yes, don’t turn your back on me baby
You’re messin’ around with your tricks
Don’t turn your back on me baby
‘Cause you might just break up my magic stick

Listen to Black Magic Woman by Fleetwood Mac

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