Fleetwood Mac whips troubles, working chemistry aids band

Fleetwood Mac
(Photo: Neal Preston)

Mick Fleetwood was in a hurry.

He was at the tail-end of a full afternoon of phone interviews with the press, one more rehearsal was scheduled and there were the usual business matters to be completed — all in preparation for Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 American tour.

The group performs in the Myriad at 8 p.m. Sunday.

“I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a few minutes,” came the drummer’s remarkably unhurried, British-accented apology over the crackling phone line.

“I’ve got hypoglycemia. Gotta get the old sugar count checked out before we go on the road.”

The tour was set to begin in two days at the time of our brief chat, and Fleetwood Mac’s new album, Mirage, was already sitting at No. 1 on the national charts.

“It’s doin’ great,” Fleetwood said happily. “We’re very happy with this album because it feels, we think, a lot more integrated, more of a band effort, than the last one did.”

The group’s previous LP, Tusk, was an ambitious double-record package which, Fleetwood admitted, had a more “segregated” feel to it. The album seemed to be a collection of solo performances by the group’s three songwriters — Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie and especially Lindsey Buckingham.

“There was a lot of experimental stuff done on that album,” Fleetwood reflected. “But had it been a single album I don’t think people would’ve been half as overly-aware of that particular aspect of it.

“We suffered a little because of that. People felt we were doing things differently.

“When you’ve got a double album, obviously the styles of all the individual songwriters — which are very different as I’m sure you’re aware — are more apparent.

“You became much more aware of which songs were Stevie’s, which ones were Christine’s. And Lindsey, well, he had the bulk of the songs. I think eight or nine.”

On several of Buckingham’s Tusk contributions, the lead guitarist played all of the instruments on the tracks.

“None of that went on on this album (Mirage),” Fleetwood said.

“We have a working chemistry in this band. We became aware of just using that.”

Fleetwood formed the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac in 1967 in England with fellow John Mayall alumni John McVie (bass) and Peter Green (guitar/vocals). They also had support of guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Spencer.

Through the years, the band has gone through numerous reincarnations, and the lengthy list of former members includes Green, Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Dave Walker, Bob Weston and Bob Welch.

Beginning as a band heavily steeped in American blues, the ever-changing Fleetwood Mac began to move more into contemporary and progressive styles of rock ‘n’ roll.

But while they garnered a devoted cult following, the group never attained more than modest commercial success.

Through a long process of trial and error, Fleetwood finally developed a winning formula, first with the addition of John’s wife, Christine, on vocals and keyboards and finally with a little-known songwriting and performing duo, Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

In 1975, Fleetwood Mac, the first album with this new lineup, went platinum and yielded three hits, “Over My Head,” “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me.”

Buckingham’s distinctive and unusual acoustic and electric guitar stylizations, coupled with the perfect blend of the three singers’ voices and imaginative songwriting talents, created a brand new Fleetwood Mac sound.

But just when things were finally beginning to look rosy came the much publicized break-up of John and Christine and the long-standing relationship of Stevie and Lindsey.

It was a traumatic time for the band and for Fleetwood in particular, who was charged with holding together a band made up of ex-lovers and ex-spouses.

“None of the old battle scars still exists,” he recalls now. “That’s long since gone. That was all able to be coped with, which wasn’t easy.”

Someone in the background reminded Fleetwood of his doctor’s appointment just when he was beginning to warm to the subject of his own work, but he allowed one last question: What kind of show can the fans expect this time around?

“Well, we don’t believe in flash-pots, y’know,” he chuckled. “Just basically, we’ll get up and do a two and a half hour show, some old stuff and then a chunk of the new album — just going for it.”

Gene Triplett / The Daily Oklahoman / September 23, 1982

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