Robert (Bob) Brunning was born on June 29, 1943 in England, UK
He was at teacher training college in London when, with other students, he formed a band called "Five's Company" in October 1965. The group broke up in July 1967. A week later Bob answered an ad in the British music magazine Melody Maker placed by a band that was looking for a bass player. Bob showed up at Peter Green's door and stammered; "Do you know about the Peter Green who plays with John Mayall?" Peter answered him: "You bloody idiot! I am Peter Green." Bob was hired after a brief audition and was told that the new band's first gig would be the prestigious Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival.
Just a few weeks before, Peter had contacted Mick Fleetwood to form a new band. He originally asked John McVie to play bass, but John declined the offer as he was hesitant about leaving his steady job with Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Thus Brunning got the gig that made him famous. Rounding out the lineup was Jeremy Spencer on guitar. The original Fleetwood Mac line-up was ready to rock.
They started off rather auspiciously, playing the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival on August 13, 1967. Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac shared the stage with bands like Eric Clapton's Cream , Jeff Beck, John Mayall and Chicken Shack which of course featured their future bandmate Christine McVie.
Green, Fleetwood, Spencer, and Brunning recorded several tracks including their first singles, "I Believe My Time Ain't Long", "Rambling Pony", and "Long Grey Mare". These tracks and others can be found on "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" and "The Pious Bird Of The Good Omen". A live gig featuring Bob can be found on the bootleg CD "Live At The Marquee".
As fate would have it, all of this was happening around the same time that McVie's band The Bluesbreakers were starting to play free-form jazz. This interesting situation was more than enough for the blues-purist McVie to reconsider Green's original offer to join the band.
Bob Brunning was well aware that his tenure in the band was temporary. He left the group on good terms and almost immediately joined Kim Simmonds' blues band, Savoy Brown. His only recording with Savoy is the "Taste and Try Before You Buy" single, which was released in the U.K. Both sides of the single were eventually tacked onto the CD reissue of the 1968 album "Getting To The Point" in 1990. After his dismissal from Savoy Brown (over their 'creative salary system'), Brunning settled down and married his girlfriend Helen. Although he eventually became a school teacher, his blossoming blues career was always a priority.
Bob formed his own part-time Blues band called "Brunning Sunflower Blues Band" together with pianist Bob Hall. They recorded four albums between 1968 and 1970; "Bullen Street Blues" (1968), "The Brunning Hall Sunflower Blues Band" (1971), "Trackside Blues" (with Peter Green: 1969), and "I Wish You Would" (1970).
1969 saw the first album release (self-titled) by his part-time British Blues Band, "Tramp". Recorded in 1974, "Put A Record On" was the second and final "Tramp" album and featured the talents of Brunning, Mick Fleetwood, Danny Kirwan, Bob Hall, and Dave and Jo-Ann Kelly.The song "Put A Record On", was originally recorded on the 1971 “Brunning Hall Sunflower Blues Band” album. Alternate versions of the song showed up on the Jo Ann Kelly cd’s entitled “Key To The Highway” & “Tramp 1974”.
Bob taught at a London school until in the 80's, when he decided to form a new Blues band with his old Sunflower companion Bob Hall. They called themselves the "De Luxe Blues Band" and were often the featured back up band for U.S. blues singers/guitarists touring the U.K.
Other members of the original line-up include Daniel 'Danny' Adler on guitar and vocals and Mickey Waller on drums. As a sidenote, Adler is an acquaintance of ex-Macster Rick Vito.
The De Luxe Blues Band recorded five albums between 1981 and 1994. They were as follows:
“Live at the Half Moon Putney”, “A Streetcar Named Deluxe”, “Urban
Deluxe”, “Motorvating” and "The De Luxe Blues Band".
Besides his obvious musicianship, Bob is also a noted author.
He has written several books about the Mac, the British Blues
scene, and music in general. His best known works include "Behind The Masks" published
in 1990, 1998's "Fleetwood Mac : The First 30 Years", and
"Blues: The British Connection" originally published in '86 and later
reissued. All have been cited for their attention to detail and biting humor.
In the 90's Bob Brunning opened his "BB's Blues Club" and then transferred the venue in February 1998 to The Colour House Theatre in Merton, South London.
Every Sunday night, they present a live Blues act from Britain or overseas.
Bob combines his day job at the school with his part-time
In the last several years, Bob continued to update his Mac books while dabbling in lecturing and selling some of his most recent
recordings on his website
Some of these 'for sale' recordings include
his 1997 cd entitled “Bob
Brunning’s De Luxe Blues Band” and “Various Artists”
compilations of live recordings
from his B.B.’s
Unfortunately Bob passed away of a heart attack on October 18, 2011. He is survived by his second wife Halina, and their son, Daniel, and his six
grandchildren. The man and his music will be missed.
From Sarah James - "I only met him a few times - his daughter worked for me a
number of years ago and I met him through her. Bob had a lot of energy
and vision and that his achievements
as a head teacher shouldn’t be overlooked. He turned around a failing primary school in
Pimlico and got the blues festival at Merton Abbey Mills going once retired as
well as writing etc."
If you are a fan or a friend or both, please drop us a line and share your thoughts about Bob.
Research: Dirk Faes & John Fitzgerald
Written by: Jan Freedland, Dirk Faes, & John Fitzgerald
One Together website
"The First 30 Years" by Bob Brunning
"My Twenty-Five Years In Fleetwood Mac" by Mick Fleetwood
"My Life And Adventures In Fleetwood Mac" by Mick Fleetwood