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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Rattlesnake Shake on Wikipedia
"Rattlesnake Shake"
Single by Fleetwood Mac
from the album Then Play On
B-side"Coming Your Way"
FormatVinyl, 7"
GenreBlues rock
Writer(s)Peter Green
Producer(s)Fleetwood Mac[1]

"Rattlesnake Shake" is a song by British rock group Fleetwood Mac, written by guitarist Peter Green, which first appeared on their 1969 album Then Play On. The track was considered the high point of its parent album, and it was also one of the band's crowd-pleasers in the late 1960s.[2]


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Critical Reception
  • 3 Personnel
  • 4 Cover versions
  • 5 Charts
  • 6 References


Although "Oh Well" was a hit in the UK, that song was not the group's first single released in America. Instead, Clifford Davis, who was Fleetwood Mac's manager at the time, selected "Rattlesnake Shake" to be released in the US since he thought it would become a big hit,[3] but it did not chart anywhere. After the failure of "Rattlesnake Shake", "Oh Well" was chosen as the second single. "Oh Well" fared much better, and became the band's first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

According to Mick Fleetwood, the double time shuffle near the end of the song was not intended to happen. Instead of removing the shuffle the band decided that they really liked it, so they kept it. Mick Fleetwood ranked the song in his top 11 favorite Fleetwood Mac songs of all-time list since he was able to participate in bringing out the character of the song.[4] It incorporated the freedom to go off on a tangent, to jam – the classic ‘Do you jam, dude?’ We learned that as players. You hear that alive and well in the double-time structure that I put in at the end, which on stage could last half an hour. It was our way of being in The Grateful Dead.[4]

In a Q&A, Peter Green revealed that "Rattlesnake Shake" was about masturbation.[5] In 2014, Mick Fleetwood confirmed this in his autobiography "Play On", stating that "Rattlesnake Shake" is an ode to masturbation as a cure for the blues.[6] "I'm named in it, as a guy who does the rattlesnake shake to jerk away my sadness whenever I don't have a chick. That was an appropriate immortalisation of my younger self, to be sure."[6] Green also said the band used a tape of a real rattlesnake to create the rattling effects heard at the end of each chorus.[7]

Critical Reception

The song has been very well received; the magazine Rolling Stone has hailed the track as Peter Green's best song along with "Albatross.[8] Ultimate Classic Rock also received the track very warmly, and ranked it #7 on the Top 10 'Peter Green Fleetwood Mac Songs' list.[9] Paste Magazine also rated the song at number #19 on the 20 Best Fleetwood Mac Songs Of All Time.[10]


Fleetwood Mac
  • Peter Green – guitar, vocals
  • Danny Kirwan – electric guitar
  • John McVie – bass guitar
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, handclaps

Cover versions

A different recording of "Rattlesnake Shake" also appears on Mick Fleetwood's solo album, The Visitor. Released in 1981, this recording featured Peter Green, the track's composer, on guitar and vocals. During this time, Peter Green was beginning to reemerge professionally and was releasing some solo albums of his own. Unlike the original, this version did chart, peaking at #30 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Also in 1981, Bob Welch recorded a live version of the track on his album Live at The Roxy, with contributions from Stevie Nicks (tambourine), Christine McVie (maracas), Mick Fleetwood (drums), Robbie Patton (cowbell), Alvin Taylor (guitar), Robin Sylvester (bass), Joey Brasler (guitar), and David Adelstein (keyboards). The album was released in 2004.[11]

A cover version of "Rattlesnake Shake" appeared on an Aerosmith box set, titled "Pandora's Box".[12]

In 2005, Rick Vito covered "Rattlesnake Shake" on an album of the same name.[13]

In 2008, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band recorded a live version of "Rattlesnake Shake" for their album "Blue Again!".[14] This version featured Rick Vito on guitar and vocals.

Five years later, the song was rehearsed for a Mick Fleetwood Blues Band concert. Christine McVie had given Mick Fleetwood a call and asked him if she could play at an upcoming gig in Hawaii, which Fleetwood agreed to. The same day, Fleetwood and Rick Vito brought a piano to her hotel suite and rehearsed "Don't Stop" and "Rattlesnake Shake. On the night of the gig, Mick Fleetwood alluded to a special guest, without announcing the special guest was Christine McVie. In addition to the aforementioned songs, they also played "Get Like You Used to Be" and "World Turning".[15]

Personnel (Mick Fleetwood version)

  • Peter Green - vocals, lead guitar
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion
  • Richard Dashut - percussion
  • George Hawkins - bass guitar
  • Todd Sharp - guitar
  • Lord Tiki - hand drums
  • Tony Todaro - percussion
  • The Clapettes - percussion
  • Ebaali Gbiko - percussion, backing vocals


  1. ^ "Fleetwood Mac:Then Play On". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Evans, Mike (2011). Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History. 387 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016: Sterling. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-4027-8630-3. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ Morthland, John. "Fleetwood Mac Then Play On Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Bosso, Joe. "Mick Fleetwood: my 11 greatest recordings of all time - Rattlesnake Shake". musicradar. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ "The Penguin Q&A Sessions: Peter Green, August 19 - September 1, 1999". The Penguin. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Fleetwood, Mick; Bozza, Anthony (October 2014). Play On: Now, Then & Fleetwood Mac (First ed.). 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-316-40342-9. 
  7. ^ Fisher, Ben. "Green God Breaks His Silence (Guitar Player, November 1994)". The Blue Letter Archives. Retrieved February 28, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Peter Green - 100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  9. ^ DeRiso, Nick. "Top 10 Peter Green Fleetwood Mac Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  10. ^ "The 20 Best Fleetwood Mac Songs of All Time". 
  11. ^ "The Penguin Discography: Rattlesnake Shake". 
  12. ^ "Pandora's Box - Aerosmith". AllMusic. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Rick Vito: Rattlesnake Shake". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen. "Mick Fleetwood Blues Band: Blue Again!". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ Fleetwood, Mick; Bozza, Anthony (October 2014). Play On: Now, Then & Fleetwood Mac (First ed.). 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104: Little, Brown And Company. pp. 315–16. ISBN 978-0-316-40342-9. 
  16. ^ "Mick Fleetwood Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 

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