Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 album Tango in the Night will soon be getting the deluxe treatment, according to a new report. No date has been issued yet, but this latest reissue follows in the steps of Rumours, Tusk, and Mirage, which have all reissued with remastered sound, bonus tracks, new liner notes, and period photographs.
Three UK’s ‘Dance Pony Dance’ Campaign Has Thrust ‘Everywhere’ Up The Charts.
By Tom Miller
Sunday, March 10th 2013, 18:05
Fleetwood Mac have scored their first top 20 hit in 25 years thanks to Three UK’s ‘Dance Pony Dance’ campaign.
‘Everywhere’ climbed 72 places up the singles chart to number 15 in the past week. It previously reached number 4 in the chart in 1988.
The ad by Three UK features a pony moon-walking and dancing in a field to the track. Customers are invited to remix their own pony video at ThePonyMixer.com.
The band’s accolade was confirmed by the Official Charts Twitter account earlier today:
Official Charts @officialcharts
Thanks to the @ThreeUK advert, this week’s highest climber, up 72 places to #Number15, is #Everywhere by @fleetwoodmac. #DancePonyDance
5:46 PM – 10 Mar 13
Listen to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’ in full:
Vintage Vinyl News (UK)
Sunday, March 30, 2013
Michael Ball, remains the king of the veteran artists in the U.K. as his Both Sides Now only drops from 8 to 13 in its second week.
The biggest of the new albums by veteran artists belongs to Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell and Angels which premiers at 39. While the album is tearing up the U.S. charts with what will be a number 2 debut this week, the 39 is the worst that a Hendrix album has done in the U.K.
The other new album is Old Yellow Moon by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, which starts at 42 on the Albums and number 1 on the country Albums.
The artist that is really thriving for the week is doing it with decades old material. Fleetwood Mac’s deluxe edition of Rumours is as 19 on the Album and tops the Catalog (Heritage) Album chart while the single “Everywhere,” which was their last top 40 hit in the U.K. back in 1988, has reemerged and risen to number 15 on the Singles and Digital Singles and 3 on the Catalog Singles charts.
By Andrew Braithwaite
Music Talkers (UK)
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 17:27
An unusual yet amusing advert has brought Fleetwood Mac’s classic song ‘Everywhere’ back into the charts to a respectable position. The advert for mobile phone company ‘Three’ has racked up massive amounts of YouTube hits in just over a week. It’s fast become the latest UK viral sensation.
With a rather bizarre combination of a dancing Shetland pony on a cliff side in Eshaness in the Shetland Islands Scotland, the pony breaks out into some kind of backwards leg shuffle dance, similar to the moonwalk dance.
The reaction to the advert has been massive; people on Twitter have been praising the advert, some saying that it’s the best thing they have seen. It’s not without its complaints though; some cannot stand the clip and find it highly irritating.
Today when the official midweek charts were revealed Fleetwood Mac ‘Everywhere’ had come in at number 14. The classic was originally released in 1988 where it got to number 4 in the charts. Maybe it could beat its original place through this viral sensation by weekend.
The owners of the farm have reported that the emails, calls and letters have come in from around the world about their Pony named ‘Socks’. No doubt mobile phone company Three are delighted with the success too.
It’s not the first time we have seen odd combinations of classic songs with adverts to produce massive viral success. A few years ago the Phil Collins drumming Gorilla advert saw a great response. It seems combination of classic songs with surreal videos is the key to viral success.
- Dancing Shetland pony has racked up millions of YouTube hits
- Ad for mobile network 3 described as ‘best thing ever’ by fans
- Mari Williamson, the owner of the stallion Socks, told of her pride
By Kerry McDermott
Daily Mail (UK)
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 9:29 p.m. EST
And it seems a Shetland pony moon-walking to the strains of an ‘80s pop tune could be just the thing.
An advert for mobile internet firm 3, which sees a pony tapping its hooves to “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac, has been lauded as ‘the best thing ever’ by fans on Twitter.
The quirky clip has racked up more than two million YouTube hits in less than a week.
‘Seeing the dancing pony advert brightens up my day,’ said Twitter user @_5ophie, while @Lozzaap tweeted that it would ‘always be my favourite advert’.
Another fan, @Anthonyshaw_, posted: ‘Love that dancing pony in the new 3 advert’, adding ‘It’ll probably be in a lasagne by next week though’ — referencing the recent horse meat scandal.
Mrs Williamson, 42, who runs the Benston stud farm on Shetland, said she was amazed at the five-year-old’s new found fame.
He was even given the VIP treatment during the shoot by having his own hairdresser who attached 40 clips to his locks for each day of filming.
Mrs Williamson was approached last year to supply the ponies for the advert, which was filmed on the cliffs of Eshaness on the islands.
She said: ‘The reaction has been incredible. We have had phone calls and emails from all over the world. I thought they did a terrific job with the advert and it was surreal watching it for the first time.
‘Socks is a plucky pony who just loves attention and I think that’s why he was picked out to be the star. He spent a week filming the advert and he took it all in his stride.
‘It’s gone viral now with millions of people watching him but he is blissfully unaware and is keeping his hoofs firmly on the ground.’
Socks was prepared for his starring role for two weeks by local animal trainer Elaine Tait, who told how she taught him to ‘moonwalk’ by giving him carrots as gifts.
She said: ‘Since I only had two weeks in order to get Socks ready to moonwalk, I had to work quickly to gain his trust.
‘I had to encourage him to go up on his rear legs as well – usually this is something that a trainer tries to get his horse or pony not to do, but because of the choreography of the ad, it was something we had to do.
‘In order to get him to paw the ground, which is probably one of the most important parts of the moonwalk process, I placed a facecloth to the ground that he would paw.
‘Eventually, he would know to paw the ground without the facecloth being there.’
The moonwalking Shetland horse advert was filmed by award-winning filmmaker Dougal Wilson, famed for his tear-jerking festive films for John Lewis.
Local hairstylist Bjoern Larson fitted Socks with extensions and used luxury products on him for the shoot.
One of Mrs Williamson’s other ponies, Hugh, also starred on the advert, which launched during Coronation Street last week.
However, she insisted that despite his fame she will not be cashing in by selling Socks.
She added: ‘He has never been for sale and I won’t be selling him no matter what the price. ‘He’s a very special little pony.’
Mash-up versions of the popular advert have also been cropping up on YouTube, including one in which the Fleetwood Mac song has been replaced by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and another which sees the pony trotting to the sounds of “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones.
Walking to Optimism (UK)
Monday, March 4, 2013
Our moonwalking pony ad for Three mobile is now topping the global viral charts. Second Sync, which analyzes Twitter conversations, says that the video generated 14,000 tweets within five hours of its internet premiere on Friday.
But even more excitingly, we got a telephone call from Martin Wyatt, manager of Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, the writer and performer of the song ‘Everywhere’ that soundtracks the ad. He told us that Christine is “absolutely thrilled to bits” that we used ‘Everywhere’ and wanted to congratulate whoever made the decision to use it in the ad. She “absolutely loves” the ad and has been “glued to the TV all weekend” waiting for it to come back on. Our Three team is a bit starstruck and overwhelmed at this news.
Three is launching its major first brand campaign for four years, featuring a dancing Shetland Pony, as it looks to boost brand preference against its big spending rivals.
By Lara O’Reilly
Friday, March 1, 2013
The mobile operator is shifting from focusing on value to pushing out its brand values in the multi-million pound push, after undertaking several months of research into its target audience and their interests. The company did launch a campaign in November 2011 around its network benefits, but the latest campaign eschews mention of product at all. The last major brand campaign was in 2009.
Tom Malleschitz, Three marketing director, admitted to Marketing Week the company has “lacked brand consideration” among what it internally calls the “early majority” segment — people who want smartphones but are not necessarily early adopters.
He added the company has not run such a sizeable campaign in years because it has been investing in building its network, improving customer service and building “proof points” around its brand before “shouting loud” about them.
Malleschitz says: “We are still the relatively new kids on the block and our marketing budget needs to work harder [than our rivals] because we are smaller. We have invested and built up our network for four to five years and in our customer services — because Three was in a different shape four to five years ago. Changing the perception of us from this to a great network takes time but this will change and has already changed a great amount in the last couple of years.”
Research conducted by BrainJuicer and commissioned by Three found its target audience loves sharing videos and photos via their mobiles with friend -particularly animals in funny situations.
A TV ad, created by Wieden + Kennedy, features a Shetland Pony moonwalking to “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac, who recently announced they were reforming. It carries the strapline “Silly Stuff. It Matters”.
The ad will be supported by a web based app hosted on YouTube called ponymixer.com, which encourages users to “mix up” the ad with different songs and animals and share their mixes with friends — with the best customisations featuring in additional marketing activity. It will also feature outdoor, in cinema and on Three’s social media channels. Mindshare handled media planning and buying.
Three has also partnered with The Guardian’s online edition to launch a new section called “Keep on Internetting”, which will core the most liked, shared and mentioned content online. Media was planned and bought by Mindhsare.
The push comes ahead of the wider rollout of 4G beyond EE by operators Three, O2 and Vodafone.
Malleschitz explains Three will not hero the 4G spectrum it acquired earlier this month in Ofcom’s auction as the company believes it already has “ultrafast” technology.
He adds: “We already have an ultrafast network which is the answer to all the techhy talk. We truly believe tecchy language is something we should avoid. Our customers want a reliable, fast network that should be available for the whole country with no premium.”
By Fred Schruers
Rolling Stone 772
October 30, 1997
WERE THE LOVINGEST, FIGHTINGEST, DRUGGINGEST BAND OF THE ‘70s. TWENTY YEARS LATER, THE PSYCHODRAMA CONTINUES …
TWENTY MINUTES AFTER COMING OFFSTAGE IN Burbank, Calif., Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie look just a touch stunned in the unsparing light of a trailer that’s serving as their ad hoc lounge. A film of sweat fights it out with their foundation makeup. They’ve just played go minutes’ worth of what was meant to be Fleetwood Mac gems. Tonight’s show wasn’t entirely to their liking: Nicks muffed the first verse of “Dreams” while crane-mounted TV cameras cruised and snooped, and McVie simply seemed to be hoarding strength for the next taped show Friday evening, I9 hours from now. They have the wideeyed graciousness of party givers who can’t get their guests to leave as they politely shake hands and slump back beside a zealously beaming Winona Ryder, who rises to depart with a fervent observation: “Weren’t they amazing?”
You can see on the ladies’ faces that they don’t feel that amazing tonight, but they’re glad for Ryder’s dewy-eyed vote of confidence. When a man is tired of London, said the essayist, he is tired of life; and if you tire of this rejuvenated band, you are tired of, well, classic rock. You could feel both audience and band rediscovering that in the first few measures of the first number, “The Chain”: Mick Fleetwood’s peaty bring-out-your-dead opening drumbeats; Lindsey Buckingham’s astringent guitar; Christine McVie, Nicks and Buckingham’s baleful harmony “Listen to the wind blow/Watch the sun rise . . .”; and John McVie’s darkly muttering bass combined to pretty well blow the dust off the legacy and bring you forward in your seat – this is as bleakly intoxicating as what the trade magazines call pop music can get. By the time Buckingham was squeezing out an anguished “And if you don’t love me now/ You will never love me again,” he had reclaimed, at 47, the title of angriest dog in rock. Fleetwood’s face, which in repose is capable of a kind of distracted, offputting gravity that wouldn’t be out of place in an old German vampire movie, creased happily as he patted the song to a close.
It’s from 1977’s Rumours, of course, the only cut on which all five shared the writing credit. It’s also the band’s old and new testament to its own tortured togetherness, because it perfectly captures the ominousness of that chain letter warning you of loneliness and loss: “I can still hear you saying/You must never break the chain.”
As we know, this band did individually suffer whether because it broke the chain or because it really could not – a string of woes including but not limited to heartbreak, enmity, alcoholism, cocaine addiction, penury, divorce, carpal tunnel syndrome and, as Fleetwood tried to pound the body back to life, being sandwiched on a nostalgia package tour, in 1995, between REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar. In place of FRED SCHRUERS last wrote about Fleetwood Mac in RS 344, when he traveled to Ghana with Mick Fleetwood.
Buckingham and Nicks, that Mac iteration featured such unlikely figures as one-time Traffic operative Dave Mason and Bekka Bramlett, daughter of the redoubtable ‘70s rock duo Delaney and Bonnie.
It was Buckingham, of course, who left the gate open for the impostors with his repeated walkouts on the band, but he is also the creative linchpin of the fivesome. Nicks had her solo hits like “Edge of Seventeen” and a pair of great duets with Tom Petty; Christine McVie is a viable solo artist with (like Nicks and Buckingham) a label deal at the Mac home base of Warner/Reprise; and Fleetwood and bassist John McVie are always employable as what Fleetwood calls “gigsters” – but Buckingham is the tormented genius you could lift out of ‘7os rock and set down, with his fierce chops and raging vocals, anywhere you like.
Among the mixes for his next solo album, which is on hold as the band tours, is a cut that takes its title from the last word of the lyric “Think of me, sweet darlin’, every time you don’t come” and features a honking guitar workout that should serve as a do-yafeel-lucky-punk invitation to any doubting arrivistes who haven’t replaced their six-strings with samplers. Buckingham’s back-to-back performances of “Big Love” and “Go Insane” (the latter of which shows up only on the long-form, costs-money video version of the band’s new live album, The Dance) made the audience in Burbank stand up peering, midway through the generally sedate tapings, like a crowd watching stock cars flip over.
The wall chart of the Mac’s fortunes goes in its rough strokes by io-year jumps, at least in the Buckinghamcentric view of things: from 1967, their founding as an English blues band; to 1977, when Buckingham and Nicks invigorated the band’s 25 million-selling Rumours; to 1987, when, after the torturous Tango in the Night sessions at Buckingham’s house, he balked at touring and was sent away; and now to 1997, when Buckingham has been persuaded to join up again and co-produce The Dance. The question that hangs over the entire enterprise is whether the current U.S. sweep of 43 dates in major cities will turn into a world tour. And while Nicks and Christine McVie hint that they may yet opt out of the larger plan, it’s really Buckingham’s call to make.
“You know,” says Nicks, who still wears chiffon but is a good deal more battle-hardened (and speaks a bit deeper) than the hippie priestess of one’s former imaginings, “Lindsey made a whole lot more money than everybody else did because he produces. The producers get paid first. And he probably didn’t spend nearly as much money as everybody else did; he lives way simpler. So he didn’t have to do this for money, you know. The rest of us would all like to put something away for, you know, our golden twilight years. But he has to want to do it, or we don’t want to do it, either.”
If Buckingham is the brains of the operation, Fleetwood is the heart and viscera, keeping the beat going in every sense. Picture him just a few years ago, Rumours money squandered, brandy bottle near, coked out and lying in a borrowed bed in a damp cellar watching soap operas, and you know this is a heart through which hard times and bad habits could not drive a stake.
The reunion may have been inevitable from the moment that Buckingham invited Fleetwood to help with his solo album. “I had some ambivalence about Mick,” Buckingham says. “He was clearly into my album, and yet I knew he was to a substantial degree instigating this whole band thing. I couldn’t be mad at him, because Fleetwood Mac is his life’s blood, really. He’s spent his whole life trying to keep the ship afloat.
“Everyone has said to me, `This is going to be a good thing for you,’ and, of course, you kind of are suspicious of their motives, too. I’m a suspicious guy. I’m working on that.”
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM WAS BORN TO RELATIVE privilege in Palo Alto, Calif., and raised nearby in Atherton. His father, Morris, ran a coffee plant (“Small and slowly not doing so well and eventually went under”); two older brothers were golden, suburban jock types – brother Greg won a silver medal for swimming in the ‘68 Olympics. Lindsey was a high school junior singing “California Dreamin’ “ at somebody’s house when transfer student Stephanie Nicks, a senior, saw him. Two years later, she was the chick singer and he the bassist in a post-high school band called Fritz. It was understood that none of the guys would hit on her. But when Nicks and Buckingham migrated to Los Angeles to shop the band’s demo (he was on guitar by now), they were tapped by the Polydor label – without their band mates. In Nicks’ room at the Tropicana Motel, confusion was sown, innocence lost. “Why it happened between me and Lindsey was because we were so sad that we had to tell the three guys in the band that nobody wanted them, only us,” she says.
Once they’d broken up with the band and their respective steadies, “our relationship was great,” says Nicks. “We had other problems: didn’t have a lot of money, alone in L.A., didn’t have our families, no friends, didn’t know anybody. But we had each other. “I knew that we were going to be somebody,” says Nicks. “I think that he had a little bit less belief in the fact that we would really make it big. I always knew.”
This particular crystal vision did have to wait. When Buckingham got mononucleosis, they moved back north, short on cash. Nicks continued college but often stayed with the Buckinghams in their living room. The two cut tracks, working nights in a spare room at the gloomy coffee plant. “It was scary there,” says Nicks. “Good acoustics, though.” Working with a four-track Ampex tape machine, they built songs one channel at a time, the old Beatles way. The tracks would form the basis for their 1973 album, Buckingham Nicks, but the musical idyll was interrupted by his father’s heart illness and death, at age 54. “His dad died within a year, as we watched, and it was awful,” Nicks says. “I picked up the phone and had to hand it to Lindsey the morning his father died. Devastating. Changed all of our lives.”
The singing duo set up shop in a slightly beat section of L.A. with engineer Keith Olsen and another musician friend, and despite the occasional passed-out session man on the floor, Nicks and Buckingham grew domestic. “From ‘71 through ‘75,” says Nicks, “I lived with Lindsey all those years. We were absolutely married. In every way [but for the ring]. I cooked, I cleaned, I worked. I took care of him.”
Buckingham Nicks, made with credentialed studio players like Jim Keltner, had an almost Delaney and Bonnie Southern twang and even got a pocket of rabid fans in Birmingham, Ala. This aberration may have been what led to an odd New York meeting with a Polydor A&R type who told them, “I think you’d be better off, you know, if you did something more like this,” and put a 45 on his office turntable Jim Stafford’s crackerbilly hit “Spiders and Snakes.” They had a tenuous spec deal to make a second record, but even as the advisers “were trying to glom us off on the steakhouse circuit, the one-way ticket to Palookaville,” as Buckingham says, Fleetwood was making his legendary visit to Olsen’s studio and hearing “Frozen Love,” from the duo’s LP. A week later, when Bob Welch left the band that Fleetwood had been nurturing since 1967, Buckingham got the call, and within days, the newly minted Mac were in rehearsals. What would become a sturdy friendship between Nicks and Christine McVie took immediately, in a let’s-see coffee-shop meeting. By contrast, John McVie, who still missed the band’s original but now acid-damaged guitar god, Peter Green, found Buckingham – who began by advising him to play “simpler” – brash.
John McVie, a man of wry and placid, not to say mournful, aspect, misses Green (now embarked on a low-key comeback) to this day. He distinctly recalls the fateful trip to Germany where Green went astray. “We had been selling more records than the Beatles,” he says. “It was an amazing time.” Then, one night at a gig, came “German jet-set kids, hippies with money, and they had a whole ploy. They dangled a carrot in the shape and form of a beautiful young German model in front of him, and they got him away for two or three days in a studio in a basement. And if I ever meet those bastards…because what they did is unforgivable.”
“Somebody gave him some bad acid,” says Christine McVie, who was married to John but not yet in the band, “and it freaked him out. I saw one Peter Green leave and a completely different one come back – pale, wan, depressed. A little mad, really.”
This was far from the end of sex, drugs and rock & roll for this most tumultuous of bands, but the fivesome’s honeymoon produced 1975’s Fleetwood Mac, with its suitably goofy cover art and, despite its pop accessibility, curiously dour demeanor. Christine McVie’s “Say You Love Me” thrummed irresistibly; Nicks”‘ “Rhiannon” was an obvious FM classic, and her “Landslide,” written in Aspen, Colo., during a bittersweet moment in relations with Buckingham, seemed to herald the arrival of a rock goddess just spooky enough for a generation’s second stoned decade. With the abruptly successful band trapped between its new hordes of hangers-on and its own romantic troubles (not just the couples: Fleetwood’s marriage had been running erratically ever since his wife, Jenny, briefly ran off with his pal, lead guitarist Bob Weston, from two lineups previous), Commander Fleetwood mandated that the record would be cut in the slightly remote outpost of Sausalito, just north of San Francisco. What they did there is one of the legendary blood-and-glory tales of rock-album making. “We had a good time, bad time, fun time, sad time,” says John McVie. “Something great came out of it.” Twenty-five million records later, Rumours carries its own bona fides; among its many attributes, it would seem to be the most inescapable album of its era.
Nicks and Christine McVie encamped in a pair of nearby condos. “All we had was each other, really,” says Mc Vie. “We certainly weren’t getting on with our respective husbands or boyfriends.” Meanwhile, says John McVie, “we lads had our thing, too.” In a residence that was part of the studio complex, the boys set up shop – “with parties going all over the house,” says John. “Amazing. Terrifying. Huge amounts of illicit materials, yards and yards of this wretched stuff. Days and nights would just go on and on. It was very loose.”
It got to the point where the craziness seemed normal. “In those days,” Christine McVie says, “it was quite natural to walk around with a great old sack of cocaine in your pocket and do these huge rails, popping acid, making hash cookies.” Oddly enough, Nicks’ “Gold Dust Woman” had been written several years before, when she had little experience with cocaine. By the time she cut the song, she still wasn’t fully wise to the drug. Even singing, “Take your silver spoon and dig your grave,” she says, “we did not realize how scary cocaine was. Everybody said it was OK, recreational, not addictive. Nobody told you that you may end up with a hole through your nose the size of Chicago.”
The steady drugging, combined with the pressures of recording under the band’s highly collaborative system, tore at the already weak fabric of the couples’ relationships. Though she’ll hint that Buckingham was at least somewhat possessive and controlling, Nicks says, “I don’t even remember what the issues were; I just know that it got to the point where I wanted to be by myself. It just wasn’t good anymore, wasn’t fun anymore, wasn’t good for either of us anymore. I’m just the one who stopped it.”
She remembers the day quite vividly: “In Sausalito, up at the little condominium. Lindsey and I were still enough together that he would come up there and sleep every once in a while. And we had a terrible fight I don’t remember what about, but I remember him walking out and me saying, `You take the car with all the stuff, and I’m flying back.’ That was the end of the first two months of the recording of Rumours.”
Back in L.A., in a Sunset Strip recording studio, Buckingham added the vocal to his “Go Your Own Way,” an outburst of a song to which Nicks dutifully added backup vocals. “I very, very much resented him telling the world that `packing up, shacking up’ with different men was all I wanted to do,” she says. “He knew it wasn’t true. It was just an angry thing that he said. Every time those words would come out onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that. It was like, `I’ll make you suffer for leaving me.’ And I did. For years. Lindsey immediately got girlfriends. I never brought men around, because I wasn’t going to tick him off any more than I had already.” Back and forth it went. When Nicks wrote a song, she’d bring it to him, and he’d ask, “Who is that about?” “You don’t really want to know,” she would say. “So I’m not going to tell you. It’s just about nothing.” Even so, without Buckingham’s help, some of those songs she was scrawling in her notebooks never quite got finished. Her productivity plunged. “That’s where the double-edged sword came,” Nicks says, “whether he wanted to help me or not: `So, you don’t want to be my wife, my girlfriend, but you want me to do all that magic stuff on your songs. Is there anything else that you want, just, like, in my spare time?’“
Meanwhile, Christine McVie remembers, “Mick was sort of holding everything together. But the music was, also. The music was very rewarding. It was very powerful to be there recording these songs.” Somehow, amid the emotional devastation, her signature tune, “Songbird,” arrived gift-wrapped. “I wrote it in half an hour,” she says. “Just stayed up late one night. I think I just was thinking of all the band members – `God wouldn’t it be nice just to be happy?’“
There was little chance of that, as she reluctantly prepared to split with John. “I dare say, if I hadn’t joined Fleetwood Mac,” she says, “we might still be together. I just think it’s impossible to work in the bared with your spouse. Imagine the tension of living with someone 24 hours a day, on the road, in an already stressful situation, with the added negativity of too much alcohol. It just blew apart.”
“John,” says Nicks, “drinks too much. And that’s why Chris and John aren’t together. Period. And John knows that he needs to quit, but you know none of us are going to go over there and nail him to the wall. So hopefully it will all be OK. You know, I pray every day, `Please, God, just take care of John.”
FROM THE TIME THAT RUMOURS WAS released and had its quick, massive success until Buckingham ducked out, in i987, Fleetwood Mac were imprisoned by their own near-mythic popularity. Behind the tinted glass, things could get ugly. “It was just having to be together and being so unhappy,” says Nicks. “You don’t want to sit in the same room, be on a plane after a show, with somebody who hates you. It was not fun.”
As frontman for the band, Lindsey Buckingham gave performances that were more like exorcisms; toward the end of the U.S. leg of the 1977 Rumours tour, he collapsed in the shower in a Philadelphia hotel room and was later diagnosed as having a mild form of epilepsy. By then, Fleetwood and Nicks had a serious flirtation cooking – despite his marriage and her relationship with a record executive. On the band’s Pacific tour that fall, after a show in New Zealand, they went back to her room and began a covert affair that moved from there through Australia and back to the U.S.
“Mick and I,” says Nicks, “were absolutely horrified that this happened. We didn’t tell anybody until the very end, and then it blew up and was over. And, you know, Lindsey and I have never, never talked about Mick. Ever.”
That wasn’t the only psychodrama Australia would see; one evening, as Nicks performed her patented witchy dance on “Rhiannon,” twirling under her hooded poncho, Buckingham wrenched his jacket over his head and began dancing in a crude, crowlike imitation of her. “Lindsey was angry – just mad at me,” recalls Nicks. “That wasn’t a one-time thing. Lindsey and I had another huge thing that happened onstage in New Zealand. We had some kind of a fight, and he came over – might have kicked me, did something to me, and we stopped the show. He went off, and we all ran at breakneck speed back to the dressing room to see who could kill him first. Christine got to him first, and then I got to him second – the bodyguards were trying to get in the middle of all of us.”
“I think he’s the only person I ever, ever slapped,” says Christine Mc Vie. “I actually might have chucked a glass of wine, too. I just didn’t think it was the way to treat a paying audience. I mean, aside from making a mockery of Stevie like that. Really unprofessional, over the top. Yes, she cried. She cried a lot.”
Without quite denying such incidents, Buckingham looks genuinely a bit puzzled to hear them played back. “What I do remember,” he says, “is a show where I purposely sang much of the set out of tune. We got offstage, and everyone was irate, obviously. They were talking about firing me and getting Clapton. Very well founded, because it was not a professional thing to do.” Ultimately, the guitarist’s voluntary departure, in 1987, stopped the toxic brawls. In fact, except for a couple of weeks in the studio when the band cut Tango in the Night, in 1986, Nicks says she spent little time in the ‘8os around Buckingham “and his insane kind of going-insane thing.”
Nicks had her own battle to wage – against the cocaine that had become her key companion during her solo years. “I haven’t done cocaine since 1985,” she says, “when somebody advised me to go and see a plastic surgeon. He said to me, `The next toot that you do could be your last. The tissue in your nose is very delicate. It could go straight up to your head, and then you could drop to the floor and die a lousy, two-hour death.’ So what I did was finish my tour. I had to be very careful just a tiny little bit, very careful.”
Nicks came off the road and packed her bags for 28 days of rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic. “They are hard-nosed,” she says. “They’re harder on you if you’re famous – `Oh, if it isn’t Miss Special.’ It’s awful. But it works. Now, I don’t do things that make me feel bad, ‘cause I have way too much work to do. When they told me that my brain might blow up, it was very easy to quit.
FOR FLEETWOOD, THE WARNINGS would take longer to arrive. His marriage to Jenny Boyd was in trouble, his father was dying of cancer before his eyes, and he was spending the $3 million he’d already made from Rumours on cocaine and real estate. And despite, or almost because of, his cash influx, Buckingham was writhing uncomfortably as the band got huge. Distracted though he was, Fleetwood could see that Buckingham, “our chief architect and creator,” was under the spell of the Clash and other Brit-punk bands, and intended to kick the next album well to the left of Rumours. Buckingham told Fleetwood that he felt stifled by the band format and wanted to record some of his tracks at his home studio; further, he was sick of pouring his best musical ideas into the others’ songs.
Yet there were plenty such songs, and the band was ready to make the double album that would be named Tusk, after Fleetwood’s slang for an erect male member. (“We just liked the sound of the word in the abstract,” he later lied to People.) His father died, in the summer of 1978. In the life reassessment that followed, Fleetwood confessed to Jenny about the now-cooling Nicks affair; Jenny went back to England for good soon after. By year’s end, he had taken up with Nicks’ pal, model Sara Recor, who happened to be married.
The band was making new music: Buckingham’s plaintive “Walk a Thin Line” (“I said, `Stay by my side’/But no one said nothin’ “) and lurching “What Makes You Think You’re the One” and “Not That Funny”; Nicks’ “Sara” (where the libidinous Fleetwood appears “just like a great dark wing”); Christine Mc Vie’s poppy “Think About Me.” The title track was recorded with the USC marching band. The persisting joke is that Warner Bros. execs heard the scattershot, challenging two-record set and saw their Christmas bonuses fly out the window. To make the battle more uphill, Warner Bros. issued it in September 1979 with a price of $16, about three bucks more than was typical. Fleetwood Mac survived another wearying world tour the ailing Buckingham undergoing a diagnostic spinal tap that left him on all fours in pain and caused the cancellation of a gig for 8o,ooo people in Cleveland and fetched up back in L.A. so worn out that Buckingham impulsively told a crowd that it would be a long time before anyone saw the band again. Within days, after the four other band members told Fleetwood that they wanted more professional counseling than his Seedy Management could offer, the band agreed to take nine months off.
Fleetwood flew to Ghana to make a record with some pals and the local hotshot players. He drummed all day and led sprees all night. On one, grousing about poverty, he took off his $8,ooo Rolex President and smashed it to bits with the heel of a beer bottle. Buckingham immortalized the expedition in his sardonic solo song “Bwana.” “We all have our demons/And sometimes they escape,” he wailed. “The jungle cries for more.”
Fleetwood’s demons were definitely about. He bought a house in the same L.A. canyon as Don Henley and Barbra Streisand, dubbed it the Blue Whale and made it the clubhouse of his Zoo band – many musicians, too much coke. Making payments on two sizable homes, running the parties, he was finally forced to declare bankruptcy. Christine McVie remembers the sad epoch when Big Daddy became Little Daddy: “Everything about him became little. He wasn’t walking with his shoulders straight like he always used to. It was sad to see that. He didn’t seem happy, didn’t know how to function unless he was high. He would just sleep the whole time – just hooked on drugs, about as low as he could get. I remember him telling me he was living in somebody’s basement with a damp carpet. The carpet was soaking wet, and the bed was damp, and he used to lie in bed watching soap operas all day long.”
For the recording of 1987’s Tango in the Night, Fleetwood was functional enough to play the drums. Buckingham, encouraged by the band’s willingness to come to his home studio, labored long and hard to produce the album’s rich sonic sheen. His own unfettered “Big Love” featured overlapping sex moans (Buckingham’s voice equalized into something many thought was Nicks’). Christine McVie’s “Everywhere” took the band’s vocal formula to a teeth-achingly pretty extreme. But Buckingham had put off his third solo record – for 17 months – and torn his favorite songs out of it for Tango. Here’s how he remembers those era-closing sessions: “I think the final snapshot I have is from that period of time, making Tango up at my house. We had a Winnebago parked in front because we didn’t want the whole house to be used for a lounge, so to speak. I had a girlfriend then who was very threatened by the whole situation, and that didn’t really work very well, either. But the snapshot would be us trying to get things done in an atmosphere where there was just a lot of crazy stuff going on and not a lot of focus, and not a lot of unity and certainty. And no sense of us wanting to do this for . . . for the reasons we originally got into it for. That’s my last snapshot of 1987. And then a little 10-year vacation.”
THE NIGHT AFTER IT AMAZED Winona Ryder, the band reconvened for another show. Once again, the invited 400 seemed to want the Mac thing very much. Brought to attention by “The Chain,” stroked by “Everywhere,” almost chastened by the rigors of “I’m So Afraid,” the band settled in during the deceptively peaceful opening strains of “Silver Springs.” But Nicks, who had shown a good deal of power the previous night, was clearly going for the whole enchilada this time. “Time has cast a spell on you, but you won’t forget me/I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me,” chanted all three singers as Nicks gathered herself, then gripped the mike and turned toward her ex-lover with every semblance of smoldering anger and hurt: “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you.”
By the time Nicks was virtually shouting, “Was I just a fool?” and “Give me just a chance,” Buckingham was peering sideways as he sang his part, eyes guarded behind whatever masking his guitar and mike stand could afford him. “ `Silver Springs’ always ends up in that place for me,” says Buckingham later, “because she’s always very committed to what those words are about, and I remember what they were about then. Now it’s all irony, you know, but there is no way you can’t get drawn into the end of that song.”
It’s four months later as night settles in outside Stevie Nicks’ L.A. house, and a couple of dozen candles stacked around the room flicker in the breeze coming through the open French doors. “At night the ocean gets really loud,” Nicks says. “And then you realize how close you are to it.” An oversize original print of her and Buckingham bareshouldered, as they appeared on Buckingham Nicks, sits nearby, awaiting shipping to a museum. She’s discussing he performance of “Silver Springs” that will be seen in a few days on MTV. “I never did that before,” she says of he fervent, face-off reading of the song. “I left that for Friday night. The earlier shows were good. I just paced myself. They weren’t the show I wanted to leave behind for posterity, just in case Fleetwood Mac never did another thing.”
“I think,” says Buckingham, “some people are probably getting the impression that we are back together or something along those lines. Which is certainly not true. Not yet, anyway. You never know. I don’t foresee that at all. But, you know, things…”
Stevie Nicks sits up very straight when she hears that notion: “Over my dead body. See, I don’t want to be part of that darkness. He knows that. When we’re up there singing songs to each other, we probably say more to each other than we ever would in real life. If you offered me a passionate love affair and you offered me a high-priestess role in a fabulous castle above a cliff where I can just, like, live a very spiritual kind of religious-library-communing-withthe-stars, learning kind of existence, I’m going to go for the high priestess.”
MICK FLEETWOOD HAS INVITED Lynn, his wife of two years, to come out on the road and see a few shows – just not the early ones. “Lynn and I were talking to someone who is new to this whole thing called Fleetwood Mac,” he says. “And she said, `What you’ve got to understand is that these people have something in between them that is extraordinarily theirs. And you will never know. It is you and them, but you have to get used to it, because when these people are together, there is an unspoken thing that absolutely exists.’
“You know, this whole thing is not happening as a bunch of corporate decisions. The celebration that Stevie and Lindsey are now able to have is interesting to watch. It’s good – an understanding of where they’ve come from. I would hate to see anyone walking away or something going wrong, because now they’re at the point in their lives where they can relate to the fact that they did come as a couple – first as a couple musically, then they joined this thing called Fleetwood Mac. And then they went to hell and back, basically. And now they are able to talk about that. It’s also a celebration for me and John – I sometimes go, Wow, this man has been standing next to me for 30 damn years: Christine, too. It’s something to be proud of.” Christine McVie, singing a couple of songs at stage front for the first time, says she occasionally feels “like I’ve stood up in an airplane that’s in turbulence.” But back behind her keyboards, she thinks of history, too: “I do have flashbacks occasionally. The beast might have had its nails clipped a bit – I don’t know. We’re certainly not as dangerous for each other as we used to be. If anything, I’m hoping that we’re now going to be good for each other. Wouldn’t that be a nice way for things to turn out?”
Copyright Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.
Fleetwood Mac swap partners for tango tour. It has been twenty years since Fleetwood Mac formed as a blues quartet, and long-time member Lindsey Buckingham celebrated the anniversary by leaving the group. As the group begins a new tour with two new members, Stevie Nicks is still fuming.
Fleetwood Mac swap partners for tango tour.
IT HAS been twenty years since Fleetwood Mac formed as a blues quartet, and long-time member Lindsey Buckingham celebrated the anniversary by leaving the group. As the group begins a new tour with two new members, Stevie Nicks is still fuming.
When Lindsey Buckingham announced his departure from Fleetwood Mac in mid-August, he threw the band’s future into doubt. “A lot of people probably expected us to do the old roll over on your back trick,” recalls Mick Fleetwood.
“What were we supposed to do?” asks Stevie Nicks, “Lindsey left. So did that mean we were done? No. Why should the rest of us quit just because of him?”
Mick adds, “Rather than shut down, we decided to press on and get out on the road.”
Tango in the Night, their first album in five years, was selling briskly; it recently passed the one million mark. There was every indication, then, that a Fleetwood Mac audience still existed. But who was going to fill Buckingham’s shoes on stage? “We did not hold auditions or anything,” answers Fleetwood. “I have been working with Billy [Brunette] – he played guitar with my [solo] group Zoo and had done some writing with Christine [McVie]. But he is not a lead guitar player, he is a great rhythm player and singer and writer, but he is not a lead man. So I also rung up Rick [Vito, who had previously played lead guitar with John McVie and John Mayall, as well as Jackson Browne and Bob Segar].”
Vito remembers, “I devoted a couple of days to learning the material. After I played with the band for a few hours, I think it was obvious it was gelling. I realized this could be fun and pretty great. But this chance…it was not something I would have sat down and thought about as being in my future.”
But both Vito and Burnette, introduced as permanent members at an August 18 press conference, are very much a part of Fleetwood Mac’s future. “The group will be my first priority,” says Burnette, who released an engaging solo album last year and is the son of 50’s rocker Dorsey Burnette. “I will continue to write on my own, but how much will depend on what they want to do.” After a brief pause he corrects himself: “I mean what we want to do.”
“Good answer,” snickers Stevie Nicks, seated next to him at a large conference table. The other members of Fleetwood Mac are there too. Seeing them all together in one room — an extremely rare occurrence away from the studio or concert halls — it is hard to ignore the magical aura they still project. They look like stars.
There is Stevie’s charming, impish smile, Mick’s rolling, Marty Feldman-eyes, Christine’s glimmering sapphire eyes, and John’s distinguished-looking salt and pepper stubble. Even Burnette and Vito could pass for daytime soap opera actors. Yet it is easy to understand how the guitarists, having only rehearsed with the band for a couple of weeks, could still feel like outsiders. But Nicks stresses, “They are not just fill-in guys. They are in the group. And everybody is playing as one unit now. Neither Billy nor Rick are freaking out on stage trying to get all their licks in.”
While it might seem odd that Buckingham was replaced by two guitarists, this move actually brings Fleetwood Mac closer to its original instrumental format. When the group was formed in England back in 1967, guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer worked in tandem with the enduring Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass) rhythm section. A year later, Danny Kirwan was brought on board as a third guitarist.
This process shaped the bluesy sound of Fleetwood Mac, says singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, who officially joined the group in 1971. “When Californians Bob Welch, Bob Weston, then Buckingham eventually filled the guitarists spot, the groups sound, not surprisingly, shifted into more of a pop direction.” Christine believes, “I can now see us getting back to more of a blues thing. Rick…I do not want to say he is like Peter Green, but he plays wonderful blues a la Peter. And Billy’s got this great hard, driving voice. So we have definitely got a whole new can of beans here.”
This represents the first personnel change in Fleetwood Mac since 1975 when Buckingham and Nicks (formerly a duo act) joined up and helped catapult the band into American superstar territory. The albums Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, featuring such songs as “Rhiannon,” “Say You Love Me” and “Dreams” (the group’s first number one single), topped Billboard charts. And Rumours, which has now sold over 20 million copies worldwide, held the number one spot for 31 weeks (a record surpassed only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller) in 1977.
Mick reflects, “We had already been a highly successful band in England. In 1969, you could not get any bigger than we were over there. We did not reach that level in America until eight years later. But we could see it coming. It is not like we were a bunch of 18-year-old kids that had just put a band together and boom! and we have an album go through the ceiling. We were prepared and could deal with the inevitable comments like, Ah, look at you now, you have gone commercial on us.”
“When Lindsey and Stevie joined up,” says Christine, “we did not consciously alter our sound, but at the same time, I thought, Hmmm. I think this is something special we have got here.”
Stevie says, “The very first big concert I played with Fleetwood Mac, at the Oakland Coliseum with Peter Frampton [in 1976], I couldn’t believe all those people were out there. We were not famous. The record [Fleetwood Mac] had just come out. We hit the road. Then, within three months, we were all famous and on our way with the hits.”
Rather than follow up this commercial well-spring with similar material, the band unveiled an ambitious double-record set called Tusk in 1979. Filled with both conventional pop and adventurous percussion-dominated tracks, it cemented Lindsey Buckingham’s role as the group’s arranger/producer/musical director. He continued in this capacity for Fleetwood Mac Live (released in December 1980), Mirage (June 1982) and Tango in the Night (April, 1987).
Christine admits, “Lindsey and [co-producer] Richard [Dashut] were at the fore, without question, when it came to the ideas and the sound and the production. And they were very good at it. Of course, one has to say, nothing went on the albums that the rest of us did not like. If anything got a bit too left wing, which it might have in certain cases, I definitely would have put my foot down and said, Wait a minute lads.”
Stevie Nicks, whose stormy relationship with Buckingham has been well-documented, offers a different viewpoint. “In the studio, if Lindsey said the wall was gray, I will be absolutely sure it was pink. In order to get one of my songs on a record I will have to say, OK, the wall is gray, Lindsey. Otherwise, it was the back of the bus. Now this has nothing to do with the other members of Fleetwood Mac, who, from the beginning, have always been lovely to me, have always known how important my songs are to me, whereas, with Lindsey, he would rather I just stayed at home doing laundry. We are talking about a man who was in love with a woman and would just as soon she had faded out and just been his old lady or wife. Period.”
“Whooo,” sighs Christine after a full five seconds of silence. Mick interjects, “That situation changed somewhat, in my opinion.”
Stevie narrows her eyes and says, “Not when it came down to the real thing. Uh uh. Never changed.” When she launched her solo career in 1981 with the release of Bella Donna, Stevie admits, “There was a part of me that was saying, ‘See, I can do it myself. I do not need you every second to do everything for me.’”
On her first solo tour, however, she remembers, “In Houston, in front of 12,000 people, when they said, “Welcome, Stevie Nicks; I turned around and looked for Mick and Chris and John and could not believe I was walking out there by myself. I will do a song, then instead of being able to saunter off, have a touch-up done on my make-up, have my hair fluffed, and put on a different jacket, then saunter back on, I will hear, Hey, this ship is gonna sink if you go in there for five minutes! So I ran around on stage in circles for a couple of weeks.” Stevie adds, “I would just as soon not be the captain. I never liked being responsible for everything. Too much time is wasted handling problems that have nothing to do with music. Basically, I do not like being a businesswoman, which is what I have to be when I am on my own. Again, the only reason I started a solo career is because I wanted to do more of my songs. I will much rather work within Fleetwood Mac.”
Christine McVie echoes this sentiment, “I was never too keen on the idea of a solo thing,” she says. “I do not enjoy the pressure of being the only one up there who everybody looks to for leadership. I like being part of a group. But the time was trickling on by and [in 1983] I could see Fleetwood Mac was not going to be happening for a while, so I did an album [Christine McVie] and a tour [in 1984]. That was hard work. I had to do my own make-up and the whole bit. My make-up used to run down my face and by the end of the night, it was horrific. So no, I would not want to tour [solo] again. My life, musically speaking, has always been Fleetwood Mac — at least for the last 20 years — and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.”
It is doubtful anyone could have been happier to return to the Mac family than Mick Fleetwood. While he kept busy working with his side band, Zoo, and gave acting a shot, Fleetwood also ran into financial difficulties and had to file for bankruptcy. but the even-tempered drummer managed to keep his life together. Says Christine: “Mick is like the daddy for us all and he always sort of has been.” John McVie adds, “Musically, Mick is my first lock in.” “John and Mick,” Christine concludes, “they are the old backbone of the group.”
By his own admission, John needed a little support himself earlier this decade. Before the Tango in the Night sessions began in 1985, John’s life was dominated by a drinking problem — which he has since recovered from. Christine says, “He is really doing wonderfully now. But he is not the type of person who enjoys talking about himself. Like a great many rock bass players, he prefers to remain in the background. By nature,” says Christine, “John’s a very quiet, private person. He likes to read and keep to himself. On stage and in the studio, he is always so steady, he never loses the groove. On the last record, he played amazingly.”
Listening to Tango, the entire band appeared to be reaching frequent musical peaks. Stevie has never sounded better. (During “When I See You Again,” she sings the word baby about ten different ways). Christine’s “Little Lies,” the current Top 20 single, is poetic whimsy at its best. As for Lindsey Buckingham, he not only arranged and produced the record, but had a hand in writing seven of its 12 tracks. He sings so forcefully (particularly throughout Tango in the Night), plays guitar with such vigor and assurance, and seems to bring out the strengths of everyone around him, it is tough to figure how he could just walk away.
“During the sessions,” recalls Christine, “we sensed this was probably the last thing Lindsey would do with us. It was sort of said, but not said, you know? He admitted his solo career was becoming his priority. But by the end of the album, he did sort of agree to tour, then at the eleventh hour, he just pulled out, saying that he simply could not cope with it.”
Here is Lindsey’s statement, issued through his manager. “In 1985, I was working on my third solo album when the band came to me and asked me to produce the next Fleetwood Mac project. At that point, I put aside my solo work, which was half-finished, and committed myself for the next 17 months to produce Tango in the Night. It was always our understanding that upon completion of the Tango album I would return to my solo work. Of course I wish them all the success in the world on the road.”
Christine reveals, “Whenever we played live, Lindsey always did it sort of under sufferance. He simply does not like touring. He would just as soon stay in the studio. And that just is not the case with the rest of us.”
Buckingham chose not to respond further on his departure from Fleetwood Mac, and is now in the process of finishing up a solo project. He has also been in the studio as a producer for the Dream Academy and Brian Wilson.
“I have nothing but respect for Lindsey and what he is doing,” says Christine. “He was never less than honest with us. And after 12 years in the band, it must have been something of a wrench for him [to leave]. But if someone is not happy, then nobody is happy. I think his decision was best for everyone who is concerned.”
During rehearsals for the current Shake The Cage Tour, Mick says, “It felt good to be playing again and the songs came together rather fast. Before out last tour [the three-month Mirage Tour in ‘82] a lot of time was spent cogitating, then we will creep up onstage and play a bit. Now we seem to be much more focused, there are no distractions and the onus is on the band vs. the individual. I am all for solo projects, but when they create these long time lapses, everyone gets jittery. I mean, Fleetwood Mac used to be road dogs. So when we have a gap like this last one….over five years…”
“It makes you feel like you do not have a job,” says Stevie. With Fleetwood Mac touring schedule set to cover America this fall and include dates in Australia and Europe next year, she should not have to worry about checking the classifieds for a while. And she can put her solo career on hold indefinitely. That is not a problem Stevie says. “I can not think of nicer, more talented people to work with. I look forward to seeing them. I really do. For me, this is a pleasure thing. It makes everything else all right.”
1987 marks Fleetwood Mac’s 20th Anniversary, so it is surprising that the band (or their record company, Warner Bros.) has not made a bigger deal over the milestone. But as Mick points out, “Besides me and John, there have been so many different players.”
Stevie admits, “I have never met half the people who used to be in the band.”
“But the odds of seeing a grand anniversary celebration on stage is highly unlikely,” says Mick. “It might be fairly bizarre, though. I guess we could have then called this The Rolex Tour. but we have got enough going on without taking time out to look back. We are touring to establish the band as it is now.”
In the wake of Fleetwood Mac’s personnel shuffle, one has to wonder how it affected the balance of power within the band.
“What power?” asks Christine. “No one is coming out as a kind of boss. I guess you could say Lindsey used to fill that role in the studio, and at some point I am sure someone else will emerge. Right now, I seem to be the one who is taking care of the primary business. And Mick, like I said, is the group’s daddy. But we really do not have one person who acts as boss. We all just sit around and mutually agree on things. It is hard to say what will happen in the studio. We will just have to wait and see.”
© Dave Zimmer / BAM / October 23, 1987
The photo session and interview with McVie and Mick Fleetwood in their Mayfair Hotel suite passes off pleasantly. Fleetwood poses his six foot six inches with his usual good nature and improbable dandification: striped trousers and shirt, shiny waistcoat with fob-watch chain (curving across a hint of embonpoint), embroidered slippers, yellow and white socks and a matador’s hat. This is a man who, 25 years ago, used to drive a vintage Jaguar sports car to the dole queue and blow the giro on petrol rather than food.
“I WANT TO look eighteen or younger, right?” says Christine McVie, aged 42. “I know — an impossible task!”
“Could you hold your head a bit lower?” asks Adrian Boot, photographer. “It’s better for the structure of your face.”
“My double chin you mean?”
“Precisely. Nicely put though, wasn’t it?”
The photo session and interview with McVie and Mick Fleetwood in their Mayfair Hotel suite passes off pleasantly. Fleetwood poses his six foot six inches with his usual good nature and improbable dandification: striped trousers and shirt, shiny waistcoat with fob-watch chain (curving across a hint of embonpoint), embroidered slippers, yellow and white socks and a matador’s hat. This is a man who, 25 years ago, used to drive a vintage Jaguar sports car to the dole queue and blow the giro on petrol rather than food.
There is no sense of them carrying an exaggerated opinion of themselves. They still sound English, not Californian — Fleetwood slightly public school, McVie a trace of Brummie. But they do possess a comfortable awareness of status based with monumental solidity on Fleetwood Mac having sold the best part of 40 million albums around the world since 1975 and, in particular, on being one of the few bands who have written the soundtrack of a year, if not of an era. Rumours, released in February, 1977, stood at Number One in the US charts for 31 weeks, selling 20 million worldwide. It was the successor to Carole King’s Tapestry in the adult rock market. In Britain, if you couldn’t adjust to the Sex Pistols, you sang “Rhiannon” in the bath. It put a grateful record industry back on its feet.
So, of course, Fleetwood Mac are people for whom doors are opened. Before we can begin Fleetwood is caught up in making arrangements for that night’s Paul Simon concert and the “private” reception to follow. Very early that morning, when they flew in from California, he had immediately been offered seats for the Hagler-Leonard closed-circuit cinecast. he’d refused them, pleading jet lag with a reluctant nod at advancing years.
Journalistically this was a shame because Fleetwood Mac were just embarking on the same remarkable endeavour that Leonard had completed during the small hours — a successful comeback after five years out of the spotlight. Trying to remember all the old moves, keeping the chin out of the way.
Later that week a Sunday Mirror reporter tracked down Peter Green, the peerless guitarist who formed Fleetwood Mac in 1967, wandering around Richmond looking like a tramp. He is said to have a house in the area but he often sleeps on a bench at the railway station. The photographer tried to capture his filth, his obesity, caught him with a hand raised to show off his grotesquely long finger-nails. Children pull faces at him and call him “the werewolf”. He is a man on whom all doors are shut.
The name of the band used to be Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Now the distance between them could hardly be greater. It’s not what anyone ever wanted. But it took Fleetwood Mac a very long time to learn how to keep pain out of their pursuit of happiness.
IT HAD STARTED so well. Fleetwood Mac’s drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and singer/keyboards player Christine Perfect were founder members of the British R&B boom. Whether they knew it or not, they were barnstorming around with the aristocracy of a rock generation. Green replaced Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and was succeeded by Mick Taylor — McVie on bass for all of them. Fleetwood played with Rod Stewart in Shotgun Express and had a month with Mayall before being fired for drunkenness. Christine was a member of Chicken Shack and went out with Spencer Davis.
Then in ‘67, seeking freedom from Mayall’s demanding ego, Green invited Fleetwood and McVie to join him from the Bluesbreakers crowd, adding the unknown Jeremy Spencer, a manic Elmore James impersonator. They recorded their debut album in three days and it stayed in the British charts for 13 months. Then Green began to roll out Mac’s single hits — “Need Your Love So Bad,” “Albatross,” “Man Of The World,” “Oh Well” and “The Green Manalishi” — a brilliant series of evolutionary moves away from the straightahead blues (in the middle of which they further excited their public by enlisting a third lead guitarist, Danny Kirwan). By 1969 they were one of the biggest live draws on the European circuit. Things could hardly have been sweeter.
What hadn’t struck any of the principals was that things fall apart. Or, more particularly, that people fall apart.
Suddenly Green announced that a Roundhouse gig in London’s Chalk Farm on May 24, 1970, would be his last with the band. All the stuff Fleetwood and McVie took in their stride he simply couldn’t stand any more. A turmoil of social, moral and religious ideals was whirling through his head and, if what he said about it was rarely coherent, it added up to guilt. Guilt about girls he’d casually screwed. Guilt about the children of Biafra whose bellies ballooned while he made a fortune playing guitar. He tried to assuage it. He read a New Testament Jeremy Spencer had given him. He gave thousands to famine relief charities. He began to study classical music, an antidote, one imagines, to the devil’s rock for which he’d become so prominent a disciple.
Nothing worked. Certainly not Fleetwood’s persuasions. “I always told Peter, I don’t see why on earth you feel guilty about being liked and by being liked being successful,” says the drummer sitting in the Mayfair 17 years on, still passionate about it, still grieved. “But he said it was all evil, he had to give everything away. He was…highly sensitive.”
Fleetwood still insists on viewing it as a crisis of personal ethics. Many others can’t accept such an upheaval as possible from the shrewd, ambitious Green they knew and can only go along with the story that he was spiked with a huge amount of LSD one night in Germany.
Green himself said at the time: “I was drawing away from music into just being a Christian person and it made me very happy, but it only lasted two or three weeks…” It seems that, although the conviction remained, the happiness never came back. One of the great rock guitarists has spent the last 17 years as gravedigger, barman, hospital orderly, petrol pump attendant, mental hospital patient, tramp and God knows what else, with only brief and abortive interludes as a musician.
Oddly enough, Jeremy Spencer had always seemed a far more likely candidate for a crack-up with a very obvious conflict between loony humour and inner seriousness. He would assure journalists his favourite reading was The Bible yet it was Spencer who managed to get Mac banned from The Marquee club by going on stage with a wooden dildo protruding from his unzipped fly. But it may be that it was the question of his musical identity that really screwed him up.
As a blues purist he was obsessed with perfecting his imitation of Elmore James while as a stage performer his party piece was an impression of Elvis Presley. This went down a storm with the punters at the time, but privately Spencer was agonising about his inability to write anything that amounted to more than “Dust My Broom” Part 243. The first hint of it came when he didn’t appear at all on Mac’s third album, Then Play On, despairing he had nothing original to offer.
His exit was even more dramatic and startling than Green’s. On the afternoon of a gig in Los Angeles, in February ‘71, he went AWOL, He walked out to buy a paper and he wasn’t seen for four days until he was tracked down to a nearby commune run by a pre-Born Again religious sect called The Children Of God. And that was that. He never came back.
At the time Fleetwood described a conversation with him in which Spencer had poured out his fears about the San Andreas Fault and the pall of “evil” hanging over L.A. which he felt was out to “get him”, as well as his worries about acquiring wealth, the band losing touch with the “real” blues and, on listening to an old tape featuring Green, his own inferiority as a guitarist. Quite a mess.
Naturally Mac were horrified at his fate, feeling that he had been caught at a low ebb and “brainwashed” by a sinister cult, snatched away not only from the band but from his wife and children. However, it has to be recorded that his family joined him immediately and stayed, and that ever since, when old friends have sighted him in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Greece, he has been described as on an even keel and content with life.
SUCH WAS Fleetwood Mac’s first great period of crisis. Fleetwood and the McVies — Christine had joined as Green’s replacement — responded in the way that was to become familiar. Tin hat over the ears, heads down. A cross between a family and a platoon, they had bought a country house at Bordon, Hampshire, converted it into flats and lived together there.
They had a certain wildness, but also a feeling for security. Christine had twice earlier quit music for domesticity with John. She even refused a Top Of The Pops spot for a solo single to go on a planned summer holiday with him. She had been especially upset that Spencer dumped them in the middle of a tour. In front of a reporter she told her husband: “We could have lost a lot of money, lost this house, and that’s everything you’ve worked for for the last eight years.”
You might imagine that McVie didn’t know he’d been playing bass to buy a house, but he was a high-wire man who was always taking sneaky looks at the safety net. He began his working life as a trainee tax inspector, had been very reluctant to leave Mayall, and to this day has only been in two bands. For all the legendary boozing and tumbling through two decades he’s not exactly a fly-by-night.
Fleetwood does seem to have a more fundamental confidence in his own indestructability, probably encouraged by his family background. His father was a wing-commander in the RAF and he spent his boyhood in places like Egypt (at the time of Suez) and Norway. “So I feel comfortable anywhere on this planet,” he says. His Dad is probably the only wingco to have had a pop LP dedicated to him — Tusk.
Through the band’s dog days of the early ‘70s, the core trio took in talented American Bob Welch, lost Danny Kirwan to stage fright (even Green had described him as “neurotic”), signed up mediocre artisans Dave Walker (from Savoy Brown) and Bob Weston (from Long John Baldry’s band), and kept on recording albums that sold 250,000 in the States and 5,000 in Britain. They paid their bills but it was an inglorious business.
That was when their manager Clifford Davis tried to kill them off and inadvertently helped to make them superstars instead. And the band’s penchant for the traumatic shifted ground notably from the psychological to the romantic and the fiscal.
First Bob Weston, their least blessed substitution, had an affair with Fleetwood’s wife Jenny Boyd (sister of Patti Boyd/Harrison/Clapton). In the circumstances Fleetwood — for once looking a bit of an emotional softy in the light of subsequent events — couldn’t stand being on the road. In Lincoln, Nebraska, he called a halt to Mac’s umpteenth US tour and they flew home. Then, astonishingly, Davis formed a new band and, in February, ‘74, put it out on tour in America as Fleetwood Mac. Ill-advisedly, he told Rolling Stone that Fleetwood and McVie’s names were nothing to do with it: “This band is my band. I’ve always been sort of the leader.”
Audiences walked out. The real Mac slapped an injunction on the impostors, but were then grounded by Davis’s counter-suit. “That was the only time I really got panicky!” says Christine. “Because we couldn’t work, not until we’d proved he didn’t own the name.”
By the time they’d extricated themselves, Davis and Weston were out and Mick Fleetwood was managing the band. The LP Heroes Are Hard To Find, delayed by a Davis claim, had been released to the same mass indifference that had greeted most of Mac’s output post-Green. It was obvious they needed a shake-up. At Fleetwood’s instigation they agreed to move en bloc to California, although Christine in particular took some convincing. “I hated the idea,” she recalls. “It was a very scary proposition.”
In December ‘74, Bob Welch gave up the unequal struggle to drag Mac up by their bootstraps and went off to form his own band, Paris. So Fleetwood Mac were down to the eternal triangle — and no guitarist.
Meanwhile in England the bogus Mac rechristened themselves Stretch and put out a single called “Why Did You Do It?,” a whinge at Fleetwood for taking them to court — and the bastard was a hit.
HOWEVER, THE Fleetwood Mac principle of unorchestrated manoeuvres in the dark was about to achieve its greatest triumph. Just before Welch left, the eager new manager was scouting L.A.’s cheaper studios with the next Mac album in mind. At Sound City, to demonstrate their equipment they played him a tape by a duo called Buckingham-Nicks. By chance Buckingham was down the corridor and looked in. Short of a guitarist a couple of weeks later, Fleetwood remembered the encounter and asked the duo round. They hit it off and Buckingham-Nicks were invited to join Fleetwood Mac, on New Year’s Day ‘75, without so much as a 12-bar jam to confirm that their rapport extended into music.
This epiphany has become enshrined in rock lore as one of the moments that made an epoch. For Mac though it was only typical. It had been just the same when Spencer got religion. Welch was the first candidate they saw and he too was signed up without picking a note.
Buckingham-Nicks liked Fleetwood and the McVies well enough but they weren’t overexcited about the prospects of joining what had apparently become an irremediably Second Division outfit. Although they had been struggling in L.A. lately, their backgrounds had prepared them to anticipate success in life: Stevie’s Dad had been — simultaneously — Vice President of The Greyhound Bus Company and President of Armour Canned Meats; Lindsey’s father owned a coffee company. Still, they’d been in the music business for eight years with barely a sniff of a breakthrough, and had been living together for five years in steady descent down the ladder of poverty. They decided to give it a try. Stevie asked Mick if she could borrow all Fleetwood Mac’s albums off him because she didn’t have any of them and she couldn’t afford to buy them.
They went back into L.A.’s Sound City studios and, using material already written by the two separate units, knocked out the Fleetwood Mac LP in ten days. Then, as ever, they toured for six months solid. Initially they were supporting top league earners like The Eagles and Jefferson Starship, but then their product started to perform. Christine McVie’s “Over My Head” was Mac’s first big single hit in the States, and the album went up to 9, then fell away to 40 before taking a real run at it when “Rhiannon” became a monster and finally reaching Number 1 60 weeks after release (a record!).
At last, the dairy — except that the cream had curdled. The seemingly stolid old band which had somehow made a habit of wrecking individuals was about to start ruining relationships.
THE EMOTIONAL chaos began on the road and carried on during the recording of Rumours throughout ‘76. The McVies reckoned that their 24-hour-a-day life together had added up to 40 years of normal time and they’d had enough. For Buckingham and Nicks perhaps it was just their inevitable moment coinciding with Fleetwood Mac’s unforeseen apotheosis — they too split up.
Perhaps the most titillating aspect of the real life rumours we all so enjoyed was the implication that, even in extremis, the band’s play-it-close instincts were still dominant. It seemed that a sort of multiple extended-family incest was taking place. McVie turned up with one of Peter Green’s exes. He and Fleetwood were both said to have had a fling with Nicks. Christine settled in with the group’s lighting engineer, Currie Grant, for the next several years. Meanwhile, Fleetwood divorced his wife and remarried her just over a year later (though they were divorced a second time by ‘79), Buckingham characteristically kept a lower profile (though “meeting a lot of beautiful women”). He was sharing a house with Rumours co-producer Richard Dashut and concentrating, as only a Californian can, on “redefining my individuality.”
The only extra-familial relationships being noised abroad suggested that even stars can get starry-eyed: John McVie was said to have an unrequited crush on Linda Ronstadt (though he ended up marrying his secretary, Julie Ann Rubens, in ‘78) and Stevie Nicks conducted a long-distance phone romance with Don Henley of The Eagles which eventually got a little more cosy.
But nobody quit, though nobody outside the band could understand how or why. Looking back, Christine still asserts: “Everyone cared about everyone else. There might have been problems between me and John, but that didn’t mean we didn’t care about Mick, Stevie and Lindsey and vice versa. We’re friends. Very interwoven. And to let something that successful just all apart, to say, Sod the rest of you, I’m buggering off — there was a certain responsibility not just to the band but to the whole unit. There were a lot of people on the payroll. And then there was the fact that we knew we were good. Whatever happened that was the overriding factor.”
For Buckingham it was clearly a matter of self-control and damage limitation. On Mac’s British tour in ‘77 one journalist watched while John McVie drank himself out of affability and into aggression until he threw a glass of vodka into Buckingham’s face. Buckingham laughed it off and calmed him down.
WITH THE intimate areas of their lives in circus uproar, a bit of straightforward hedonism must have looked very appealing to Fleetwood Mac. Indeed they seem to have relished it royally. Stevie Nicks in her Blanche Dubois mood savoured the moments: “Stepping into the black limousine with the white scarves, the excitement — to me it’s the height of elegance, it’s what I always wanted if I was going to be in a rock band.”
They bought mansions and Rolls Royces. Their merest snacks were banquets, the leftovers a feast. Back-stage vintage champagne was delivered by the crate and cocaine was sometimes wittily arrayed in coke bottle tops. Once, on Christine’s birthday, she came home to find that her then lover, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, had dug out the garden in the shape of a heart and filled it with roses — their friends stood around the edge holding candles. The band spent a million dollars recording the double album Tusk and a lot on solo albums of various merit and success.
Buckingham insists that the extravagant images are greatly exaggerated: “I don’t believe we were full bore into all that. Just having two women there made for a rather more refined and couth atmosphere I would say…though sure, there have been abuses.”
The great pleasure hunt ran its course. On the down-side of elegance Stevie found herself checking into hotels some nights because her house was full of people she’d never met before. Christine McVie, claiming to be “too set in my ways” to be able to accommodate children, elected to have herself sterilised. The unsinkable Fleetwood was afflicted for a time with a weird variant on diabetes, then went bankrupt to the tune of £2m owed to two Californian banks, his lawyer, and WEA. He explained that he had overextended himself investing in property and run out of readies. Back on his feet now, though the “poorest” member of Mac, he reflects: “It was an interesting process. People expect you to fall apart. But it didn’t destroy me. What I’m saying is you can’t put credence in…being able to go out and buy a nice car isn’t the be-all and end-all of you as a person.”
But they began to pick up the pieces. In January 1983, Stevie Nicks married Kim Anderson (the husband of her close friend, Robin, who’d died of leukaemia five months previously). The ceremony took place on the tennis court of her house in Marina Del Ray (they’re now divorced).
Indeed, the mood has changed so much that it’s even possible for Lindsey Buckingham to reflect on what he might have lost by joining the band. “Sometimes I speculate on what I had to give up in terms of my own pure style of playing and writing. What troubled me was that the phenomenon of Rumours, the sales, took over from what the Work was.” Buckingham has the habit of saying “Work” with an audible capital. “You’ve got to remain true to the Work. And that’s quite hard to do at this level. These years have been extremely…demanding, not only in the Work but emotionally. There are lots of ways of getting hurt. Though I’ve lost touch with a lot of what happened. I guess I blocked it out.”
The time had come for Fleetwood Mac to settle down.
EVERYTHING ABOUT the recording of Tango In The Night was more pragmatic and practical than in their golden days. Although Fleetwood sticks to the party line about band independence free of record company molestation this is Buckingham’s story of the album:
“We hadn’t worked together for four years and we weren’t really used to seeing one another. When that happens there’s pressure from Warners of course and the people on the periphery, the lawyers and the management, start to move in to initiate an album. There was a group need to record but all our individual managers and lawyers had to talk because there was no one else to put the thing together on a logistics level — the band as such doesn’t have a manager since Mick stopped doing that. The meetings are a little chaotic. More people than I’ve ever seen. But…that’s show business.”
Fleetwood presents sincere pride in the new discipline with which they worked once they’d got through the paperwork to the music. Two to ten and then home to bed. A reformed character.
The album and single did much better than expected — the LP sold 1.5 million worldwide in six weeks — and they’ve made no secret of the fact that their attitude to success has undergone some modification over the last 20 years. Christine, 44 in July, married Eddy Quintela, a Portuguese musician (and co-writer of two tracks on the new LP) last autumn and is still based in Los Angeles. “You know when we got this success what I felt most was an immense sense of security. ‘Thank God I’ve got enough money so that whatever happens I can sort it out.’ My house, which I bought ten years ago, is the closest thing to the Cotswolds you could get. I tend to be very much of a home body. I love my home. I love looking after my roses. I’ve got a wonderful husband and three wonderful dogs…”
BUT THE raven’s still tapping at the window pane. Even after 17 years, the spectre of Peter Green still seems to haunt Mick Fleetwood and he’s remained determined to try and help him whenever he can.
For instance: Green seemed to touch bottom in ‘77 when he went round to Clifford Davis’s office with a gun and, in one of the most improbable rock business confrontations on record, demanded that the manager take back a £30,000 royalty cheque. Green was committed to mental hospital where, a few months later, Fleetwood phoned him inviting him to work on his solo African extravaganza, The Visitor, when he felt ready. “We had a really good time,” says Fleetwood. “He was objective, he was a lot better than I’d seen him for years. He spent some time with me and even got married at my house in L.A. (on January 4, 1978 to Jane Samuel). But all that went wrong and he seemed to slip back.”
Fleetwood the entrepreneur had been so hopeful that he lined Green up with a deal to relaunch his recording career but, to his mortification, when Green saw the contract he said it was “the devil’s work”. Back then, in his frustration, Fleetwood told a reporter: “I’ve totally given up with Peter. After a while it just wears me down.” Now he says: “I’ve got his phone number. I’ll check in with him before I leave. It’s just I get nervous because I don’t know whether he wants to talk or…It’s odd. He’s a stranger now really.”
Over in Richmond the Sunday Mirror man asked Peter Green whether he would ever play the guitar again. “I had one a while ago,” he said, “but it broke.”
© Phil Sutcliffe / Q / July 1987