Fleetwood Mac on Fleetwood Mac: Interviews and Encounters

Fleetwood Mac on Fleetwood Mac: Interviews and Encounters

by Sean Egan

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Overview


Fleetwood Mac was a triumph from the beginning—their first album was the UK’s bestselling album of 1968. After some low points—when founder Peter Green left, some fans felt that the band continuing was sacrilege—Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined, and their 1977 album, Rumours, became one of history’s immortals, a true classic that remained on the charts for years and in the public's affection forever.

In the press, the ethereal Californian Stevie Nicks, the tormented rocker Lindsey Buckingham, the dignified English rose Christine McVie, the blunt-speaking John McVie, and the loquacious Mick Fleetwood have all regularly been astoundingly candid. This collection of interviews across the entirety of Fleetwood Mac’s career features articles from such celebrated publications as CrawdaddyNew Musical ExpressCircusCreemMojoGoldmineClassic RockBlender, and Elle, as well as interviews that have never previously appeared in print. Here is the only place you can learn the Fleetwood Mac story from the band members’ own mouths.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613732342
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/01/2016
Series: Musicians in Their Own Words Series
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author


Sean Egan is an author and journalist who has interviewed members of Fleetwood Mac, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Kinks, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, the Velvet Underground, the Who, and many others. He is the author or editor of Bowie on Bowie, Keith Richards on Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and the Making of Are You Experienced, and many others.

Read an Excerpt

Fleetwood Mac on Fleetwood Mac

Interviews and Encounters


By Sean Egan

Chicago Review Press Incorporated

Copyright © 2016 Sean Egan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61373-237-3



CHAPTER 1

PETER GREEN — THE GUITARIST WHO WON'T FORSAKE THE BLUES

Norman Jopling | August 19, 1967 | Record Mirror (UK)


This is one of the earliest pieces of Fleetwood Mac press exposure, published before "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" had even released a record and before the name of the band had impressed itself on the consciousness of even those who knew about them: Jopling refers to them as "Fleetwood Wing."

An example of just how early is provided by the revelation that it's inconceivable to their lead vocalist/lead guitarist/guiding spirit Peter Green that the group might ever abandon the blues. Herein, he virtually accuses Eric Clapton of selling out on that score — rather ironic considering that Clapton famously left the Yardbirds two years previously over the alleged abandonment of their blues roots.


ANYONE who in a year has built up the reputation of being Britain's best blues guitarist, must have some interesting things to say, and therefore be interesting to write about and read about. That's what I figured and indeed Peter Green is very interesting.

He made his reputation as John Mayall's lead guitarist when he replaced Eric (then "slowhand") Clapton. It is necessary to know that Peter Green really and truly lives for the blues and with the blues, everything from his East End upbringing (he was a shy and reticent child) to his natural talent has contributed to his present reputation.

When he replaced Clapton after a series of auditions by John Mayall in which Peter won hands down, he was taunted on nearly every date by cries of "We want Clapton" from some of the audience.

"They weren't the kind of things which made me play better," said Peter, "they would just bring me down. For a long time with John I wasn't playing at my best, as good as I was able. Only in the last few months with him could I really feel uninhibited."

Peter first became interested in the blues when he heard a Muddy Waters' record when he was fourteen. At that time he was playing bass, but after hearing more and more blues he felt he could play blues guitar and switched instruments. From playing Shadows material he has changed to playing real blues — he is on the new Eddie Boyd LP and in a private letter to a record producer Eddie said that Peter could play Blues guitar better than anyone else he had heard — a truly fine compliment.

Peter's guitar playing has made him into one of the most highly-rated musicians in the country, but does Peter think that his very specialist form of music can be truly appreciated by the audiences?

"No, no, only by a few. I think this is demonstrated by the applause I get when I play very fast. This is nothing, it doesn't mean a thing, playing fast — it's something I used to do with John when things weren't going too well. But it isn't any good. I like to play slowly, and feel every note — it comes from every part of my body and my heart and into my fingers, I have to really feel it. I make the guitar sing the blues — if you don't have a vocalist then the guitar must sing.

"Only a few people in this country can really do this. Clapton could. I would watch him and think how great he was. But he sat in with us the other week and he isn't the same, he's lost the feeling. Mind you he could, I think get it back — but he's so easily influenced. He sees Hendrix and thinks 'I can do that, why don't I?'. But I'll always play the blues."

A while ago Peter wanted to go to Chicago, because he felt that the blues scene in Britain wasn't wide enough. But he has abandoned the project now and formed his own band, Peter Green's Fleetwood Wing. Why did he leave John Mayall's band, which has the reputation of being the country's most successful blues outfit?

"Various reasons. But the most important was that I didn't agree with the kind of material which was being played. It was becoming, for me, less and less of the blues. And we'd do the same thing night after night. John would say something to the audience and count us in, and I'd groan inwardly."

Peter's group will record for the Blue Horizon label, a specialist label which will soon be distributed nationally.

If you appreciate blues, and real blues guitar, don't miss them.

CHAPTER 2

ROCK'N'BLUES VIA PETER GREEN

The Big Beat Bug Bites Bluesman Peter

Norman Jopling | March 9, 1968 | Record Mirror (UK)


Only half a year after his blues purist interview with Norman Jopling, Peter Green was justifying to the same journalist the incorporation of mainstream rock oldies into Mac's set. Even so, the band's just-released first album cleaved to that blues purism. Green waxes strangely lukewarm about it, but the record proceeded to eclipse the sales of the contemporaneous likes of The White Album by the Beatles and Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones.


THE BIG BEAT Rock'n'Roll bug is biting everywhere.

Think of the most unlikely place for it to bite. No, not Des O'Connor. Not even warm. Think of a dedicated musician NOT in the rock'n'roll field who has spent a long long time building up a reputation as a blues guitarist ... you got it, baby — Peter Green.

If you go and see Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and you hear "Jenny Jenny" or "Keep A Knockin'," don't run away and grab your bicycle chain to hit them with. Stay and listen and you'll hear Peter and the boys play some pure blues numbers. Then the similarity between the two kinds of music will be apparent to you — and you'll be able to see how the early primitive rock'n'roll developed from the blues. And remember that the Sun studios (who first recorded Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison) were recording blues artistes — some of the best — many years before the rock'n'roll craze started.

"I've always liked rock", confessed Peter to me, while he was sipping a glass of Mackeson. "And it's a pity in a way that everyone is going on about the rock thing because it seems as though we're just being 'in'. Actually I've always wanted to do this kind of thing on stage — but it doesn't mean we'll be neglecting the blues.

"We're still doing the same kind of numbers as we always did — but I'm playing more to the audiences nowadays. For instance — when we started we used to play to please ourselves, and didn't bother too much about the audience. Now — I play numbers that are requested — like 'Going Down Slow' for instance which they like because of the guitar sounds we can get into it. Funny about guitar playing — the people in the audience think you're great if you play fast but that just isn't so. Now I only play fast when I want to, which isn't THAT often."

On stage — if you've ever seen the Fleetwood Mac — they wear no stage clothes, amble on stage, and tune up before the audience. A necessary part of the "white blues" stage ritual perhaps, but effective. It makes them seem dedicated. And when the group starts playing the audience really get into the music.

Peter talked about his new LP out on the CBS label Blue Horizon.

"It really represents what we first started doing when the group was together. I think that ultimately we will think all the time in LP's, but of course I'd like a hit single."

I told Peter that I thought it was difficult for a British studio to get the "hard" sound that blues studios in America get — take Howlin' Wolf or Elmore James records for instance.

"Yes, that's true", admitted Peter. "I asked our producer Mike Vernon if we could do a 'live' LP but he said no. I've always wanted to play straight through the LP — no stopping for mixing and reductions etc. On a new LP we've just recorded with Eddie Boyd we've done almost just that. It's all recorded in mono but it is played just how I wanted it to be. I'm very excited with it. Our own LP I'm not fully satisfied with, but I don't think I'd ever be satisfied with our records — it's already sold quite well so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

"Talking about studios I was talking to Marshall Chess who was over here and he said that if we were ever in America we could use his Chess studios. I'd love to take him up on that offer.

"Some of the tracks on our LP are very exciting — 'Shake Your Moneymaker' for instance and I think that the echo effect and the dropped voice used on 'I Loved Another Woman' is very effective."

CHAPTER 3

BIG MAC

Two All Gold Albums Special Songs Let-ups Cheesecake Pickles Divorce on a Star-Crossed Success Run

John Grissim | November 1976 | Crawdaddy (US)


At the point in time covered by the first entry in this book, the lineup of Fleetwood Mac was Peter Green (guitar, vocals), Jeremy Spencer (guitar, vocals), Bob Brunning (bass), and Mick Fleetwood (drums). By the time of the second entry, John McVie had replaced Brunning. Between then and December 1974, the following people joined the band:

Danny Kirwan (vocalist, guitarist)
Christine McVie (keyboardist, vocalist)
Bob Welch (guitarist, vocalist)
Dave Walker (vocalist)
Bob Weston (guitarist, vocalist)

And the following people left:

Peter Green
Jeremy Spencer
Danny Kirwan
Bob Welch
Dave Walker
Bob Weston


This sort of wholesale change was then not only uncommon in rock but — for many — ludicrous. Losing Peter Green, the band's original guiding voice, was bad enough, but to rapidly also suffer the departure of fellow guitar hero Jeremy Spencer was, on the face of it, untenable. It seems reasonable to conclude that only the serendipity of the band's name being a conflation of the surnames of its extant rhythm section prevented the group suffering a terminal validity crisis.

In January 1975 came some personnel news bizarre even by the standards of Fleetwood Mac. A duo called Buckingham Nicks who had released an album on Polydor Records were to abandon their own career to be subsumed into Fleetwood Mac. For those not keeping up with the group's revolving-door membership, it now constituted Fleetwood, McVie (J), McVie (C), Buckingham, and Nicks — an ensemble with an almost equal division between the genders, then remarkable. Moreover, the new double appointment was in step with the soap-opera intrigues established by the McVies' married status and Bob Weston's notorious affair with Mrs. Fleetwood: Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were a couple.

For the first time, though, the upshot of adding new members was something more than workmanlike music and the impression of a mercenary attempt to return to past commercial heights. The craftsmanship of Buckingham (guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter) and Nicks (vocalist and songwriter) was injected at the precise same time that Christine McVie was blossoming as a composer. As if to underline this genuine rebirth, the group made their first album with that lineup another eponymous one. Fleetwood Mac(July 1975) was sheened, melodic soft rock graced with multipart harmonies but shot through with an unusual emotional grit. It would be this lineup's defining style. The album slow-burnt its way to number one in the US charts.

This feature — written as the band was recording an album that would be called Rumours — is suffused with the group members' euphoria over their newfound success, although there is also a tinge of sorrow: the couples in the group have split. (Strangely, Christine McVie never went back to the sweet maiden name that made her, literally, Miss Perfect.)

Note: For "Lindsay" read "Lindsey."


"What does it feel like to have won? You couldn't have put it better." Mick Fleetwood laughed contentedly in the back of the limousine headed for the soundcheck at the San Diego Sports Arena one afternoon late in August. John McVie, sitting in front in aviator shades and a white cotton longshoreman cap, had an answer. "Well," he said, throwing an elbow over the seatback, "in terms of going down to the bookstore and looking at boating magazines and drooling, which, I have for five years — I can now buy one. And I just did."

Mick unlimbered his 6'6" frame from what a moment earlier had been an attempted nap and curled up sideways like a praying mantis in hibernation. "Winning on our own personal charm is the most important. I mean the money is great, but in a lot of ways it has nothing to do with money. The thing is we are all tremendously pleased with ourselves."

He removed his blue felt-brim hat and tossed his head back, revealing a tarnished brass pendulum earring. It is one of several fashion accoutrements which, like the old I Ching coin around his neck and the narrow rectangular heirloom wristwatch, possess the same well-seasoned character of their owner.

Fleetwood sat up now, seeming more intense. "But right now we are so completely involved in what we are doing that it's hard to relate to any of it. The number one item on everyone's mind is the album. We absolutely have to finish the album."

* * *

"Chris, I think we should go for one more take to get a little brighter mood." The pleasantly modulated voice flowing through the studio talk-back speaker belongs to Richard Dashut, Fleetwood Mac's sound engineer and production assistant. He is standing at the console, his finger pressed on the talk button while he gropes for a helpful description. "This is really more of ... a cocaine song ... than it is an alcohol song — if you know what I mean."

After several seconds of silence, Dashut peers through the double glass windows. "Uh ... Chris?"

Sitting behind a mammoth Steinway grand facing the far wall of the darkened studio, Christine McVie ponders the situation without looking around or moving her hands from the keyboard. A single directional spot overhead highlights her mopsy blond hair and the bottle of Blue Nun on the piano.

"Well," she drawls laconically, rocking ever so slightly to one side. "I am drunk."

Dashut falls back into his armchair laughing as everyone in the control room cracks up. Mick Fleetwood's grim countenance vanishes. Stevie Nicks, sitting cross-legged in a reclining chair embroidering a pair of denim pants, stands up for a near-sighted glimpse of Christine, whose own laughter percolates through the monitors.

The comic relief, however inadvertent, is desperately welcome; especially at 4:30 a.m., near the end of another in a series of intense all-night sessions at the Record Plant's studios in Sausalito. For some time, there hadn't been much to laugh at. Here it was, early March, and Fleetwood Mac, after nearly a month in the studio, was way behind schedule in finishing the thirteenth album in its kaleidoscopic nine-year career. The group was feeling the strain of heavy recent-success pressure with too little time off. Part of the delay had been mechanical: pianos (three in succession) had failed to stay in tune; and a tape machine, nicknamed "Jaws," had acquired an appetite for eating fresh takes.

Then there was the night some delicious grass cookies showed up with the food prepared by Andrea and Robin, the Record Plant's caterers. Pooh-poohing the advertised potency, the band gobbled freely. There followed what had come to be known as the "thousand-dollar cookie" session. The band spent most of the night in an exceedingly bent condition and the engineer went home early. All John McVie remembers is spending hours sitting with Stevie while the two of them giggled over a copy of Playboy.

Of greater consequence was the plethora of soap opera scenarios that dominated the band members' personal lives, playing havoc with the album's progress. John and Christine were struggling to go their separate ways after seven years of marriage. The Buckingham-Nicks non-marital five-year coupling was also lurching towards an end, accompanied by occasional tears and ill-concealed arguments. And Mick was broodingly preoccupied with what seemed the end of his 12-year partnership with ex-model wife Jenny, the mother of his two daughters. More soap flakes had appeared in the person of Sandra, John McVie's silently svelte English girlfriend (as well as one-time companion of Fleetwood Mac's former lead guitarist Peter Green).

"We were all in pretty bad shape," Stevie Nicks would later observe from a much happier perspective. What was remarkable about the group's handling of the situation was the consideration its members seemed to show for each other's hurt feelings; an attitude, they'll tell you, that had more to do with a collective sense of family than any wish to keep together an act that was on the brink of becoming enormously successful.

No one in Fleetwood Mac was ashamed of the romantic turmoil, but one might have questioned their wisdom in allowing an observer access to the studio during those hectic weeks. To an outsider, the band appeared to be dangerously directionless, operating without management and governed only by some vaguely functional group mind.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Fleetwood Mac on Fleetwood Mac by Sean Egan. Copyright © 2016 Sean Egan. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Peter Green-The Guitarist Who Won't Forsake the Blues Norman Jopung 1

Rock 'n' Blues Via Peter Green: The Big Beat Bug Bites Bluesman Peter Norman Jopung 4

Big Mac: Two All Gold Albums Special Songs Let-Ups Cheesecake Pickles Divorce on a Star-Crossed Success Run John Grissim 7

Rich Mac, Poor Mac Roy Carr 26

The Truth Will Tell Salley Rayl 32

Ouija Still Love Me Tomorrow? Salley Rayl 38

Nation Gripped in Massive Fleetwood Mac Attack! Salley Rayl 44

Fleetwood Mac: The Group as Group Encounter? Chris Salewicz 52

Fleetwood Mac's Undsey Buckingham Turns Another Corner Blair Jackson 74

Stevie: Fleetwood Mac's Siren Soars with her First Solo Album, Bella Donna Blair Jackson 92

Bella Stevie Sylvie Simmons 106

Where's Stevie? David Gans 117

Fleetwood Mac: Return Without Leaving J. Kordosh 126

Dirty Dancing: Fleetwood Mac Swap Partners for Tango Tour Dave Zimmer 135

The Supernatural Harry Shapiro 143

Shall I Tell You About My Life? A Rare Encounter With Peter Green Mark Ellen 150

Sound Your Funky Horn: Mick Fleetwood Johnny Black 160

Mick Fleetwood, 1997 Steven Rosen 165

John McVie, 1997 Steven Rosen 171

Mac in the Saddle Alan Di Perna 181

The Way We Were Dave Dimartino 196

Never Break the Chain Amy Hanson 205

Mick Fleetwood, 2001 Sean Egan 237

Nicks of Time Brian Smith 245

The Rumour Mill James Halbert 251

War and Peace and Fleetwood Mac Bill DeMain 262

Five Go Mad Nigel Williamson 281

Return of the Native Mark Ellen 308

24/7-A Week in the Life: Christine McVie James Halbert 314

Christine McVie, 2004 Robin Eggar 317

The Greatest Songs Ever: Fleetwood Mac-"Dreams" Johnny Slack 331

The Return of Jeremy Spencer Bill Wasserzieher 335

Original Skin Mac Randall 347

Vision Quest Chris Neal 356

California Dreaming Sylvie Simmons 367

Lindsey Buckingham: "I Was Kind of Poised to Put Out a Solo Record" Steven Rosen 377

Welcome Back: Lindsey Buckingham James McNair 387

Stevie Nicks, 2013 James McNair 390

You Make Fighting Fun… Adrian Deevoy 400

Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie Is Ready to Rock. Again Ann Friedman 406

About the Contributors 411

Credits 417

Index 421

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