Bob Brunning: Original bass player with Fleetwood Mac

 

The summit of his career as a professional musician was, ostensibly, as temporary bass guitarist with Fleetwood Mac. Nevertheless, even during subsequent decades as headmaster of a London comprehensive, Bob Brunning was mainstay of other respected outfits that made headway during the blues boom of the later 1960s.

He was also author of several associated books, such as 1995's Blues in Britain, a near-definitive history. As a measure of his own standing in the movement, this was launched with a show at central London's 100 Club, featuring Brunning, Colosseum saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith, guitarist Danny Adler from Roogalator, vocalist Chris Youlden of Savoy Brown and, on drums, former Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart sideman Mickey Waller.

Yet at grammar school in his native Bournemouth, Brunning had plucked bass in a mainstream pop outfit, Lee Peterson and the Defenders, prior to pledging himself in 1963 to The Sabres, fronted by future national radio disc jockey Tony Blackburn. Within a year, however, he'd commenced teacher training in London, where he joined Five's Company, who recorded three singles and a concept album, The Ballad of Fred the Pixie.

Becoming more attracted to earthier sounds, he responded in July 1967 to a Melody Maker advertisement that read, "bass player wanted for Chicago-type blues band", placed by Peter Green, fresh from a stint as guitarist with John Mayal's Bluesbreakers.

While he passed the audition, Brunning understood immediately that he was in the group only until John McVie, Green's first choice, became available in December. Billed as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, they made their debut at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival the following month. Then came a punishing run of round-Britain onenighters - and studio sessions that yielded a maiden single, "I Believe My Time Ain't Long", and the taping of an in-concert album in autumn 1967 (unissued until 1992).

Brunning remained on amicable terms with Fleetwood Mac, even recording with the group on one occasion when McVie was indisposed. He also formed Tramp, a casual ensemble, with drummer Mick Fleetwood during a sojourn with The Savoy Brown Blues Band, with whom Brunning attempted to balance distant bookings with his day job in a primary school - until the evening he was obliged to interrupt his wedding celebrations to fulfil a contracted Savoy Brown gig in Essex.

Nonetheless, on accepting a post at a secondary school in Pimlico, he stayed in touch with the band, mulling over but ultimately turning down a North American tour - and, with a former Savoy Brown colleague, pianist Bob "Big Sunflower" Hall, founding The Brunning-Sunflower Blues Band. Through Brunning's connections with the budget label Saga - responsible for the belated release in 1969 of The Ballad of Fred the Pixie - the band released three albums prior to a fourth offering for another company in 1971.

Perhaps the most unusual of Brunning's musical activities during the 1970s and beyond was his participation in the 22nd Streatham Cub Scouts LP Songs for Your Enjoyment, but more typical was accompanying artists engaged by a Birmingham conglomerate, Big Bear. Through its agency, American Blues Legends revues came to Europe, containing the aged likes of Lightnin' Slim, Homesick James, Big John Wrencher and Eddie Clearwater. As well as backing these veterans both on stage and on disc, Brunning's Deluxe Blues Band - with Hall, Adler, Waller and, later, Heckstall-Smith - became popular in its own right. Despite subsequent turnovers of personnel, the group was still active during their bass player's final years, appearing often at his long-running BB's Blues Club in south London.

Bob Brunning, musician: born Bournemouth 29 June 1943; married (three children); died London 18 October 2011

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago