CULT ROCK (Part 8): Fleetwood Mac's Guitarist Joins Children Of God

Jeremy Spencer disappears from the Fleetwood Mac tour in 1971 only to be discovered in the Children of God cult.

CULT ROCK (Part 8): Fleetwood Mac's Guitarist Joins Children Of God

It was February, 1971 and Fleetwood Mac was on tour but founding guitarist Jeremy Spencer was nowhere to be found.  His bandmates reported that Spencer had gone to a bookstore in Los Angeles to get a magazine and never returned. They were in town to play a show at Whiskey A Go Go. Soon the FBI and authorities were searching. Days went by with nothing. There were radio mentions and a story came out called "Jeremy Spencer: Lost in America?"

Five days after he disappeared he was located. But he had a shaved head and had been renamed Jonathan. He was at the headquarters of Children of God cult also known as the Family.  “His head was shaved and he had a different name. Basically, he was like a zombie," Mick Fleetwood said later during an interview. The tour manager said, "He just kept mumbling: 'Jesus loves you'. It was awful, like he'd gone off his head or something. He's bloody well brainwashed, that's what."

Spencer claims that he met a busker on the street who invited him to the Children of God building. He said he was frustrated with Fleetwood Mac and wanted out. The impromptu cult meeting was his way. “I was sad, uninspired musically, I had questions about life, death, love, my future, God – everything,” claimed Spencer.

Somehow Spencer convinced his wife to join him in the cult and she brought their kids to Los Angeles.

Soon after leaving Fleetwood Mac, Spencer created his own Children of God cult band called Jeremy Spencer and The Children. Their self-titled album was released in 1972 on Columbia Records. It's described a mix of psychedelic folk and American and British styles. The lyrics of their single "Can You Hear the Song" were deeply religious and Christian, even referencing the apocalypse.

The band toured in the US and Europe supporting the album.

Music played a central role in the cult according to former members. There was a famous group in France called Children of God or Les Enfants de Dieu who appeared on national TV stations. They released several vinyl record albums in the 1970s including My Love is Love, Liberty and Welcome. There was also a famous dance troupe in Thailand where some of the singers became very well known.